Rachel Sennott has made funerals her thing. The “Shiva Baby” award-winning actress is set to star in bloody Gen Z slasher “Bodies Bodies Bodies” but returns to a shiva for Olivia Peace’s directorial debut, “Tahara.”
The 2022 Slamdance film stars Sennott as high schooler Hannah, who kisses her best friend Carrie (Madeline Grey DeFreece) at the funeral of a Hebrew School classmate who committed suicide. The girls’ grieving process gives way to a journey of self-discovery and sexual coming-of-age awakening as Carrie starts to develop feelings for Hannah. Ahead of the film’s release from Film Movement on June 10, watch the trailer exclusively on IndieWire below.
“Tahara” spotlights the intersection of race, faith, lust, social status, and identity, culminating in a dark comedy coming-of-age saga. Shlomit Azoulay, Daniel Taveras, and Bernadette Quigley round out the cast.
Director Peace won Best Directorial Feature Debut of a Black LGBTQ+ Filmmaker at NewFest 2020 for the feature, which went on to screen at TIFF.
“Though it’s rare in cinema, I knew a fair amount of Black Jewish people and queer Jewish people growing up where I’m from. I was pretty surprised to find out through the making of this film, that a lot of people thought of Jewishness as this very homogenous experience,” Peace told Advocate of why she connected with screenwriter Jess Zeidman’s script.
Peace continued, “The teenage experience that I know best, is one of being a Black queer person who occasionally finds oneself in predominantly white heterosexual spaces. And that was what drew me to Carrie’s character from the jump.”
The film also leans into “difficult” conversations, with the background of Hebrew School providing the perfect framework from which to dive deeper into questions of identity.
“My main experience with stigma has to do with people feeling too afraid to engage with people with ‘difficult’ identities (mainly Blackness, queerness, disability etc.) lest they say the wrong thing and expose themselves as a bigot,” Peace said. “And this is a movie where people just scene after scene are forced into situations in which they say the wrong thing and are forced to really reckon with it…Oftentimes, these religious spaces that we find ourselves in during childhood and early adolescence are not chosen, and because of that we often have these long-term acquaintances that we acquire over time.”
The film opens in theaters June 10, playing at the Quad Cinema in New York City.