A Letter From Filmmaker Nida Manzoor About Polite Society 

The writer-director offers an inside look at her new action-comedy Sundance feature

This started for me about 10 years ago when I had the idea to make the film. I wrote the first draft when I was in my early 20s, and I was just trying to get it made. It was only in the last couple years that we've found the right partners to make it with. So it's been a long road, but I got to make the feature film of my dreams. I feel like I'm kind of the most ready I've ever been to make it.

Actor Priya Kansara and director Nida Manzoor on the set of Polite Society.

I knew I wanted to make a film that was about two sisters, that really foregrounds this sisterly love story, because I don't think we get to see that a lot in films, especially not with action and dance numbers. It was drawn a lot from my own relationship with my sister, such a close, intimate, and loving relationship. But then, when you fight with your siblings, that kind of fighting can be the most brutal.

It's important to me to show a South Asian family [the way I did], because it's sort of been my experience. And again, so much of what excites me are those nuances, those small moments between the family. Like the family’s having dinner around the table: what's the family eating? They could eat pasta. “Shouldn't they be eating a curry?” No. They don't need to. The mixing of the cultures and the different layers is just so exciting to see. The final act is a big Bollywood-inspired set piece at the wedding. It's really over the top and showcases the beauty of South Asian culture. [Then we also show the characters] at school, dressed in school uniforms, which are sort of British.

I'm also mixing all the genres I love; referencing all the movies I love. I would describe Polite Society as an action-comedy about sisterhood. The film is filled with action scenes; heights; crazy over-the-top violence, fun, and comedy. It was a chance for me to mix all the films I grew up on—the Jackie Chan and Bollywood movies.

Polite Society official trailer 

For me, the action in the film really represents what it feels like to be a teenage girl—how it can feel so painful and violent when you're having fights at school, when you're fighting with your sister. It has a real kind of visceral feeling. So we wanted to show that with fight sequences. It's wanting to show these kinds of small violences whilst using big, over-the-top action.

Audiences should definitely watch it on the big screen if they can, because that's how we conceived it—for it to be a spectacle. I wanted it to be enjoyable for the audiences. I wanted it to be a fun ride. That's why I think going to the cinema, grabbing your popcorn, and going with your friends is the perfect way to see the film. I hope audiences can enjoy the story and the spectacle of the film.