The film made its world premiere on Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival and received a spirited reception from the packed Library Center Theatre in Park City.
Written by Baig, the pic centers on the titular character, an only child to Pakistani immigrants. With high school graduation looming, Hala is bursting with sexual desire. When she meets Jesse, a classmate who shares her love for poetry and skateboarding, their romance is complicated by her Muslim faith and a father who is prepared to arrange her marriage according to their family’s cultural tradition.
The deal for the film marks the first of the festival for Apple, which entered the market amid expectations that it would make an impact as a buyer.
Hala had a famous name in its corner thanks to executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith, who championed the project. Clarence Hammond, Jamal Watson and Baig produced the pic, while Jana Babatunde-Bey, Marsha Swinton, James Lassiter, Caleed Pinkett, Ari Lubet and Aaron Carr executive produced.
Geraldine Viswanathan stars as Hala, and Jack Kilmer, Gabriel Luna, Purbi Joshi, Azad Khan and Anna Chlumsky round out the cast.
Hala was expanded from a short film that Baig made in 2016. The script for the feature was named to the 2016 Black List.
The inclusion rider policy was applied during production of Hala, which facilitated the hiring of women into many department head positions and 75 percent of critical below-the-line roles.
Endeavor repped the filmmakers on the deal.