Apple has acquired the worldwide rights to coming-of-age film Hala, following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Minhal Baig’s movie, expanded from her 2016 short of the same name, follows the eponymous Hala, a teen in Chicago who’s dutiful and academically gifted. Navigating her social life and her obligations as an only child to Pakistani immigrants, she finds things complicated by developing feelings for classmate Jesse. Her conservative parents, though, are preparing to arrange a marriage according to the family’s cultural tradition.
Geraldine Viswanathan, who impressed in Blockers, stars as Hala, alongside Jack Kilmer (Palo Alto) and Purbi Joshi and Azad Khan as her parents. Gabriel Luna (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Anna Chlumsky (Halt and Catch Fire) also star.
The film is executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, with an inclusion rider employed on the project, which required the hiring of women into multiple department head positions and three-quarters of below-the-line roles, notes Deadline. Jana Babatunde-Bey, Marsha Swinton, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Ari Lubet and Aaron Carr also exec-produce, with Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson and Baig on board as producers.
Baig, meanwhile, was a mentee on Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative mentoring scheme, with her screenplay for the feature film making it onto the Black List in 2016. She has also worked as a story editor on BoJack Horseman and a staff writer on Hulu’s Untitled Ramy Youssef Project. Apple negotiated the global rights deal with Endeavor Content, who co-financed the project. Apple’s arrival on the Sundance trade scene follows a record deal signed by Amazon earlie in the week for Mindy Kaling’s Late Night, starring Emma Thompson.
Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute