In the acerbic teen comedy TAHARA, which we’re opening June 17 at our Glendale, Santa Monica and Encino theaters, a funeral becomes a battleground between best friends Carrie Lowstein (Madeline Grey DeFreece) and Hannah Rosen (Rachel Sennott, breakout star of Shiva Baby). When their former Hebrew school classmate commits suicide, the two girls attend her funeral as well as the “Teen Talk-back” session hosted by their synagogue, designed to be an opportunity for them to understand grief through Judaism. Hannah, more interested in impressing her crush Tristan (Daniel Taveras), convinces Carrie to practice kissing with her, unlocking feelings that turn Carrie’s world upside down. Emotions heightened, the scene develops into a biting depiction of unrequited crushes, toxic friendships, and wavering faith, which ComingSoon.net calls “one of the most original films in the coming-of-age subgenre in a long time.”
“Offers a blistering, authentic view of the teen experience in America, with a refreshingly different setting in the Jewish community.” ~ Louisa Moore, Screen Zealots
“Tahara has a personal vision behind it, commanding writing and terrifically layered performances from Madeline Grey DeFreece and Rachel Sennott” ~ Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
Jess Zeidman, writer and executive producer: “I started this script when I was 19 and terrified of not being a teenager anymore. I had lived my entire life, it seemed, longing to be a teen and the idea that I could no longer claim that identity forced me to reconsider what my identity was. I knew I was Jewish. I knew I was queer. I knew I wanted to make movies. So I immortalized this feeling in a script and convinced person after person to believe in it.
“Once I had convinced a team of people, we did something I really didn’t think we could do: convince the staff at my childhood synagogue, Temple Beth El in Rochester, New York to let us make the movie there. And generously they agreed.
“We filmed around daily services and religious school classes. We put up sound blankets as the temple was under construction the entirety of our shoot and the walls were excavated to remove the decades worth of asbestos. We had $100,000, 15 days, and three lights: two real and one made out of a sheet pan. And despite this (or maybe because of it), we – and an incredible team of determined, young, and endlessly innovative filmmakers – made the movie we wanted to make. We made TAHARA.”
Director’s statement by Olivia Peace: “Working on this film has given me space to begin to unpack some of the bizarre and hilarious, and unique traumas that came with navigating high school. I was lucky enough to make it to the other side, but I see that as no small miracle, especially coming from a time and place that lacked knowledge of queer representation both in real life and in media. This is a film overwhelmingly inspired by the real teens I see on Instagram — those who are not influencers. Its development involved taking a hard look at the occasionally toxic ways that young women are taught to be in community with one another. Bending genres and exploring mediums and style is a big part of what queerness means to me. And this is a very queer film. TAHARA excites me for many reasons, but a big reason I love this film is because it aims to acknowledge the important ties between the communities we exist in and the insidious closets that they force people to operate out of. And then, over the course of one chaotic day, it shows us that it’s possible to speak your truth and break out.”