Siva Baby: Emma Seligman’s Coming-of-Age Comedy of Bi-Sexual Girl (Jewish, LGBTQ)

Shiva Baby is a 2020 comedy film written and directed by Emma Seligman, starring Rachel Sennott as Danielle, a directionless bisexual Jewish woman who attends a shiva with her family.



Shiva Baby
Shiva Baby film poster.png

Official promotional poster
Other attendees include her successful ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon), and her sugar daddy Max (Danny Deferrari) with his wife Kim (Dianna Agron) and their screaming baby. It also features Fred Melamed and Polly Draper as Danielle’s parents Joel and Debbie, with Jackie Hoffman and Deborah Offner in supporting roles.

Adapted from Seligman’s own 2018 short film, it premiered online at the 2020 South by Southwest film festival, while its first public screenings were at the 2020 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF), due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The events of the film take place almost entirely in real time, and at one location, as Danielle explores her romantic and career prospects under the intense watch of her family, friends, and judgmental neighbors.

The film is notable for its representation of bisexual and Jewish people, for being accessible for all audiences, and for effectively conveying anxiety-inducing claustrophobia.

While the film is specifically rooted in its Jewish identity and Jewish milieu, it is relatable in depicting its awkward comedy universal.

The cast musical score by Ariel Marx, likened to that of a horror film, was also praised in heightened both the tensions and comic relief.

Detailed Plot:

A near college graduate, Danielle, gets paid by her sugar daddy and rushes to meet her neurotic parents at a family shiva. Upon arrival, she is accosted by various estranged relatives about her appearance and lack of post-grad plans, while her confident ex-girlfriend, Maya, is applauded by everyone for getting into law school.

Danielle’s day takes an unexpected turn when her sugar daddy, Max, arrives at the shiva with his accomplished wife Kim and crying baby. As the day unfolds, Danielle struggles to keep up different versions of herself, fend off pressures from her family and confront her insecurities without completely losing it.

About the Directors

Emma Seligman is a Canadian filmmaker based in New York. She expanded her SXSW short film, Shiva Baby, which screened at the 2018 Woodstock Film Fest, into a feature film starring Rachel Sennott, Polly Draper, Dianna Agron, Molly Gordon, Fred Melamed and Danny Deferrari.

Shiva Baby was selected to play at SXSW, TIFF, Outfest, Melbourne Film Festival, Deauville American Film Festival and others.

Running time: 77 Minutes.

On June 17th @ 9pm at the Bearsville Center’s outdoor lawn for a special screening of the award-winning film SHIVA BABY by WFF alum Emma Seligman.  The screening will be accompanied by an intro and Q&A with Seligman and the producers.