Apple has picked up the worldwide rights to Minhal Baig’s coming-of-age pic Hala which is executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith.
The movie follows 17-year old Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan, Blockers) as she navigates her senior year of high school and starts to develop feelings for her classmate, Jesse (Jack Kilmer, Palo Alto). Raised in a conservative Muslim household by her mother, Eram (Purbi Joshi) and father, Zahid (Azad Khan), her growing feelings are at odds with her traditional upbringing. At the same time, she finds herself grappling with the knowledge of a secret that threatens to unravel her family.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Gabriel Luna and Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky also star.
Baig, who was a directing mentee for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative – Director Mentorship Program, expanded Hala from a short film that the filmmaker made in 2016. The screenplay for the feature was also named to the 2016 Black List. During the making of Hala, the inclusion rider policy was applied during production, which facilitated the hiring of women into many department head positions and 75% of critical below-the-line roles. Endeavor Content co-financed and sold the project. Overbrook Entertainment produces.
Hala is produced by Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson and Baig, and executive produced by Pinkett Smith, Jana Babatunde-Bey, Marsha Swinton, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Ari Lubet and Aaron Carr.
A Chicago native, Baig’s credits including Bojack Horseman as a story editor, and being a staff writer on the Hulu half-hour comedy Untitled Ramy Youssef Project. She has also written and directed several shorts, including Pretext, After Sophie, and Hala, and music videos. Hala reps Baig’s second feature after 2016 indie 1 Night.