First-Look Photo: Sam Abbas' LGBTQ Drama 'Alia's Birth' (Exclusive)

Credit: ArabQ Films
Alia’s Birth

The film, which was shortlisted for this year's Cannes before the coronavirus pandemic struck, features a live home-birth with resuscitation.

W.A. Ralph and a heavily-pregnant Erin Smith appear in this first-look still from Alia's Birth, the upcoming LGBTQ feature from Egyptian director Sam Abbas (The Wedding), and a film that features a live home-birth with a resuscitation. 

Also starring The Night Of actress Poorna Jagannathan and Nikohl Boosheri, who is best known for her role on Freeform series The Bold Type, the feature, in which a relationship between a female couple forces them to spend the night apart, covers sex, depression and motherhood. It also captures a live set by DJ/producer Nicole Moudaber in a New York warehouse, hosted by major event-organizer Teksupport.

Produced via Abbas' recently formed ArabQ Films, an Arab LGBTQ-focused banner, Alia's Birth was completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic, and had been in talks to have its world premiere in Cannes. But with international film festivals now mostly on hold due to the crisis and Abbas insistent that the film, which was designed purely for a theatrical setting, not be given any non-physical form of screening or release, it now looks likely to wait until cinemas have reopened. 

"Right now what’s important is everyone’s safety," Abbas said. "Once theaters are open and festivals are back running, then we can have Alia’s Birth premiere. There absolutely won’t be a possibility of Alia's Birth playing outside of a physical event. Nor will the film ever be available for VOD/DVD/Blu-ray etc."

Alia's Birth was shot by Berlinale favorite, cinematographer Soledad Rodriguez (History of Fear, Pendular, La Helada Negra). Tatiana Bears, Nicole Townsend, Abbas, Kelly Levacher and Neal Kumar all produced while Sig De Miguel and Stephen Vincent co-produced. Executive producers include Randelson Floyd, Suki Sandhu, David Klein, Josh Jupiter, Jorge Quintero, Lucky Cheng, Quim Del Rio and Nakai Mirtenbaum.

Last year, Abbas launched an international contest for female filmmakers, with the winner's short film to be included in some way within Alia's Birth. 

“I’m always fascinated by films that are split into segments by different directors and how you can see different styles and tastes mix and match into one," said Abbas at the time. "The first time I saw this was in 7 Days in Havana and The Fourth Dimension. I was struck by how each filmmaker added their own to an ultimate piece."

The winner of the contest has been announced as Emmy-nominated filmmaker Sindha Agha, who Abbas said had a "major role" in Alia's Birth and whose short film forms part of the narrative.