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‘Shiva Baby’ Director Emma Seligman Sets Sugar Baby HBO Comedy with Adam McKay

With this and her next movie "Bottoms," Seligman is shaping up to be a major new talent.

Shiva Baby

Rachel Sennott in “Shiva Baby”

Utopia

Rookie filmmaker Emma Seligman is shaping up to be a major new talent thanks to the recent release of her directorial debut “Shiva Baby” and word of two new projects she’s attached to. Along with her upcoming film “Bottoms,” Canadian director Seligman is teaming up with Adam McKay for an HBO comedy series titled “Sugar,” about the lives of sugar babies who are bankrolled by older sugar “daddies,” who also offer money and gifts.

The half-hour series will center on a young Jewish woman living in New York, balancing her family obligations with her life as a college student with the demands of being a sugar baby. Seligman is set to write and direct the pilot and will executive-produce alongside McKay and Betsy Koch through his Hyperobject Industries. The series will be co-executive-produced by “Shiva Baby” producers Lizzie Shapiro, Kieran Altman, and Katie Schiller.

As previously announced, Seligman’s next film “Bottoms” will pair her with “Shiva Baby” star and internet comedian turned actress Rachel Sennott. That movie will trace the lives of two unpopular queer girls who are also starting a fight club to have sex before their high school graduation. While there’s no word yet on when production will begin, “Bottoms” is being backed by MGM’s Orion Pictures and Max Handelman’s Brownstone Productions.

“Shiva Baby,” which is now playing in select theaters and available on video on demand, was a word-of-mouth hit at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and has earned great reviews since opening in the United States from Utopia. Centered on a single intense day in the life of a young woman who’s also attending a shiva, “Shiva Baby” is adapted from Seligman’s own SXSW short of the same name from 2018.

IndieWire recently interviewed Seligman about the film, in which Danielle (Sennott) attends a shiva and happens to run into her former sugar daddy. The storylines comes from the filmmaker’s own experience.

“What attracted me to it was the power element, which — for me — I figured out was not real,” Seligman said of her time in college cruising apps like Seeking Arrangements for sugar daddies. “At the time, I was realizing that the only power I had in my life that formed my self worth was sexual validation or my ‘sexual power.’ … That became the base of what the movie was about: a young woman realizing she had no power and letting the little girl that her parents see her as and the sexually independent version of herself she had presented to her sugar daddy clash.”

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