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Trailer Watch: Laura Moss’s birth/rebirth

The trailer arrives for birth/rebirth, the feature debut of writer-director Laura Moss, a 25 New Faces alum from 2017. Co-written by Moss and their longtime screenwriting partner Brendan O’Brien, the film is essentially a modern-day take on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, examining the biological urge to create life (whether through scientific exploits or human procreation) and the true meaning of “motherhood.”

In my interview with Moss out of this year’s Sundance, I provide a general rundown of the film’s plot:

The film follows Dr. Rose Casper (Marin Ireland), a brilliant pathologist lacking in basic social skills. Human connection doesn’t interest her anyway, as she’s developing a highly experimental treatment for reanimating recently-deceased corpses. Part of this process entails Rose mining semen from (oddly clinical) bar bathroom hookups, impregnating herself with it (turkey baster-style) and medically inducing abortion to harvest the highly-valuable embryonic material. When Lila (A.J. Lister), the daughter of a maternity nurse named Celie (Judy Reyes), makes her way down to the morgue, Rose finds the perfect cadaver to serve as her first human test subject (she has, at this point, already successfully revived a pot-bellied pig). When her daughter’s body goes mysteriously missing, Celie tracks it down, arriving at Rose’s apartment, miraculously finding her daughter living and breathing once again.   Fully invested in keeping Lila alive by any means necessary, Celie teams up with Rose to further her clandestine research—a union that probes at ideas of motherhood, conception and the human sacrifices that further scientific advancement.

birth/rebirth will hit theaters via Shudder and IFC Films on August 18. In the meantime, check out our interviews out of Sundance with editor Taylor Mason and DP Chananun Chotrungroj, as well as Moss’s answer to our annual Sundance Question.

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