‘Hala’ Trailer: A Muslim Teen Finds Sexual Agency in Minhal Baig’s Sundance Hit

"Blockers" star Geraldine Viswanathan leads Minhal Baig's semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story.
Apple TV+

Since its November 1 launch, Apple’s new streaming platform Apple TV+ has provoked conversation around new shows “Dickinson,” “The Morning Show,” and “See.” Now, it’s gearing up to launch its original film slate, which began with documentary “The Elephant Queen” and will continue with “Hala.”

Apple bought rights to the film following its buzzy Sundance Film Festival premiere earlier this year, where it earned critical praise for its sensitive coming-of-age tale and strong lead performance. “Hala” is a semi-autobiographical offering from Minhal Baig, a writer on hit TV series “Bojack Horseman” and “Ramy.”

The official synopsis reads: “Seventeen-year-old Pakistani American teenager Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) struggles to balance desire with her familial, cultural and religious obligations. As she comes into her own, she grapples with a secret that threatens to unravel her family.” “Hala” also stars Jack Kilmer as Hala’s love interest, and the film also boasts supporting turns from Gabriel Luna, Anna Chlumsky, Purbi Joshi, and Azad Khan.

In his positive review out of Sundance, IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote: “Eschewing the buoyant energy and/or blistering sarcasm that have shaped many of the best coming-of-age stories in recent years, ‘Hala’ immediately settles into a more contemplative pace that cleaves much closer to the introspection of ‘Columbus’ than the rat-a-tat energy of ‘Lady Bird’ or even ‘Edge of Seventeen.’ This is a persistently quiet film; always human and alive, but also told with the solemnity of someone who knows they’re sending a ripple through a body of water that’s been still for thousands of years.”

Baig was previously a participant in Ryan Murphy’s directing mentorship program. She expanded “Hala” from a short film of the same name, and a feature script which earned a coveted spot on the 2016 Black List.

The film is produced by Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson, and Baig, and executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, Jana Babatunde-Bey, Marsha Swinton, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Ari Lubet, and Aaron Carr. An inclusion rider policy adopted during production ensured the hiring of women in many department head positions as well as in 75% of key below-the-line roles.

Apple TV+ will premiere “Hala” on its streaming platform on December 6. Check out the moving first trailer below.

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