Vera Farmiga’s Sundance fave “Higher Ground” floats to SPC

By Sean O’Connell Vera Farmiga’s directorial debut “Higher Ground,” which received a warm reception as this year’s Sundance Film Festival, has been picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics.

“‘Higher Ground’ is one of these rare independent films — perfectly crafted, honest and inspiring,” SPC says in a release. “Vera Farmiga not only delivers a great performance but her debut as a filmmaker is one of the most auspicious in years. We feel this film will catch fire with audiences the way it has with us.”

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Academy Award nominee Farmiga stars in the film, alongside Academy Award nominee John Hawkes, Donna Murphy, and Joshua Leonard. Carolyn S. Briggs and Tim Metcalfe penned the script based on Briggs’ memoir “This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost.”

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.

“We couldn’t be happier that Vera’s film will be distributed by Sony Pictures Classics,” said BCDF Pictures reps. “We are pleased to be in business with Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, and Dylan Leiner. Their skill, knowledge, and passion for independent film will be a great asset in bringing a very special movie, ‘Higher Ground’ to large audiences across the country.”

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