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Vera Farmiga's directorial debut Higher Ground was one of my personal favorites from this year's Sundance Film Festival-- read my glowing review here-- and I was bummed to leave the festival still not knowing if larger audiences would ever have a chance to get a look at the film. Now Higher Ground has finally found a distributor, and a high-profile one at that-- Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they've picked up the film for distribution in North America, New Zealand and Australia.
No word on when they're planning a release, but I could easily see them putting together an Oscar campaign for Farmiga's performance, and maybe even for supporting players like Joshua Leonard and one of this year's Oscar nominees, John Hawkes. Sony Pictures Classics is almost always a player in the year-end Oscar race; this year they've got Biutiful in both the Best Foreign Language Film race and Javier Bardem up for Best Actor, and Mike Leigh's Another Year snagged a Best Original Screenplay nomination with SPC's backing.
Below is the plot summary for Higher Ground; it's based on Carolyn S. Briggs's memoir This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost. I'll be anxiously awaiting its release if only so I can see it again, so we'll let you know as soon as a release date is set.
Spanning the 60s through the 80s, HIGHER GROUND expertly depicts the landscape of a tight-knit spiritual community. Inspired by the resonant memoir written by Carolyn Briggs (who also co-wrote the screenplay), This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, the film is a study of one woman’s internal struggle with the primary love relationships in her life. As a contemplative child, Corrine (Farmiga) longs for stability and a sense of belonging. Her parents' marriage disintegrates when Corrine is fifteen, so she searches for security in Ethan (Leonard), a talented musician. After a shotgun wedding and a terrifying brush with death, the couple dedicates their lives to God and joins a small hippie church. Corrine and Ethan find strength and joy in this community, though some of the tenets leave Corrine unsettled. The results provoke her to begin asking questions and inspire her to finally claim her own voice.