This slick, sly comedy of New York Jewish manners rests on a simple, claustrophobic premise: what if your whole precarious life, your carefully constructed, fatally fragile persona, fell publicly to pieces amid the ritual and solemnity of a stranger’s funeral?

Shiva Baby

2020, Emma Seligman, USA

Director: Emma Seligman
Producers: Kieran Altmann,
  Katie Schiller, Lizzie Shapiro
Screenplay: Emma Seligman
Cinematography: Maria Rusche
Editor: Hanna Park
Music: Ariel Marx
Rachel Sennott (Danielle)
Danny Deferrari (Max)
Fred Melamed (Joel)
Polly Draper (Debbie)
Molly Gordon (Maya)
Glynis Bell (Katherine)
Rita Gardner (Mrs Bronstein)

Rating: M sex scenes, offensive language Runtime: 77 minutes

The screening will be preceded by the Annual General Meeting of The Wellington Film Society. This will take approximately 20 minutes, and the film’s end time has been adjusted accordingly – to about 7:55pm.

You are also very welcome to join us for the first of our after-screening get togethers, across the road at The Welsh Dragon after the film

Like a classic bedroom farce but set through a contemporary lens, Shiva Baby slowly turns into a claustrophobic nightmare for Rachel Sennott’s Danielle as she must deal with going to a shiva (a traditional week-long mourning period for a dead relative) with overbearing parents, her ex-girlfriend and the unexpected arrival of a sex client. The result is uproariously funny but also hideously uncomfortable – think a feature length episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with Sennott replacing Larry David.

Shiva Baby is the debut feature by Emma Seligman who has adapted her own short film of the same name, and she brings both a feminist and a queer sensibility to the film. Not only must Danielle traverse her relationship with her parents (played by Polly Draper and the great Fred Melamed), the fact that everyone adores her successful ex-girlfriend Maya, but then, the surprise arrival of the man who is paying her for sex, turning up with a wife and baby in tow. That this all takes place during a traditional Jewish shiva only adds to the comedy, as small things start to go wrong, building into one final eruption of embarrassment.

Film fans may be aware of Seligman’s more recent indie comedy hit Bottoms (2023), also starring Sennott.  “Seligman’s masterful approach would have not been nearly as effective were it not for Sennott’s exquisitely exasperated performance. She strikes the perfect tone of feeling annoyed by her parents and mortified by the situation of getting stuck with her ex and sugar daddy.”  – Monica Castillo,


Mar 25 2024


6:15 pm - 7:55 pm