Directed by ... VERA FARMIGA
Produced by ... CLAUDE DAL FARRA, RENN HAWKEY, CARLY HUGO, MATT PARKER, JON RUBINSTEIN
Screenplay by ... CAROLYN S. BRIGGS AND TIM METCALFE & CAROLYN S. BRIGGS
Based on the memoir This Dark World by ... CAROLYN S. BRIGGS
Executive Producers ... JONATHAN BURKHART, BRICE DAL FARRA, LAUREN MUNSCH
Casting Directors ... KERRY BARDEN, PAUL SCHNEE
Director of Photography ... MICHAEL McDONOUGH
Production Designer ... SHARON LOMOFSKY
Costumer Designer ... AMELA BAKSIC
Key Makeup & Hair Artist ... ASHLEY FOX
Edited by ... COLLEEN SHARP
Sound Mixer ... JAMES DEMER
Re-recording Mixer ... ROBERT HEIN
Music Composer ... ALEC PURO
An Oscar®-nominated and award-winning actress, Vera Farmiga continues to captivate audiences with her ability to embody each of her diverse and engaging roles. Farmiga makes her directorial debut with HIGHER GROUND, which she also stars in, opposite John Hawkes, Joshua Leonard, and Dagmara Dominczyk.
Farmiga starred in Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, opposite George Clooney, for which she received a nomination for an Academy Award®, BAFTA, Broadcast Film Critics' Award, Screen Actors Guild Award®, and Golden Globe®. Farmiga can be seen in Duncan Jones's Source Code alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Jeffrey Wright and in the upcoming romantic comedy Henry's Crime with Keanu Reeves and James Caan.
Farmiga won the Best Actress Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics' Association for her highly acclaimed performance in the independent film Down to the Bone directed by Debra Granik, for which she also won Best Actress Awards from the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and the Marrakech Film Festival. She also earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the role.
Among her other film credits, she starred in the dark thriller Orphan opposite Peter Sarsgaard; Miramax's Holocaust drama The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; and was awarded the Best Actress Award from the British Independent Film Awards. Her role in Rod Lurie's political drama Nothing But the Truth earned her a nomination for Broadcast Film Critics' Award. Other films include Martin Scorsese's The Departed; Anthony Minghella's Breaking & Entering; The Manchurian Candidate; Joshua; Quid Pro Quo; and Never Forever. She recently wrapped the independent comedy GOATS opposite David Duchovny.
Carolyn S. Briggs
Carolyn S. Briggs received her B.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas. As a graduate student, she won the Heartland Short Fiction Prize for Emerging Writers. She published her memoir This Dark World with Bloomsbury USA in 2002. She and screenwriter Tim Metcalfe adapted her short story “The Wife of Bath” into the screenplay For Emily Whenever I May Find Her. Shortly afterward, they collaborated again with the screenplay This Dark World. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Marshalltown Community College. Carolyn and her husband David live in Des Moines, Iowa.
Writer-Director Tim Metcalfe was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended both the University of Cincinnati and California Institute of the Arts.
His credits include such diverse films as Revenge of the Nerds; the Brad Pitt cult thriller Kalifornia; and the 2009 horror hit Haunting in Connecticut. For producers Ed Pressman and Oliver Stone, Metcalfe wrote the independent film Iron Maze starring Bridget Fonda; which won for him the best screenplay award at the Tokyo Film Festival.
In addition to his work on HIGHER GROUND, he wrote and directed Killer: A Journal of Murder starring James Woods. The film was also produced by Oliver Stone, and won for Woods two film festival Best Actor awards. For cable television he wrote for “The Day Lincoln Was Shot,” for TNT, and the docudrama “44 Minutes: Shootout in North Hollywood,” which garnered the highest rating in the FX channel’s history.
He has written or co-written with partners screenplays for Steven Spielberg, Norman Lear, Spyglass, New Regency, Propaganda, Mandalay, Warners, Disney, Paramount and Lionsgate and Fox. Married with two children, Metcalfe lives in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Carly Hugo is a founding partner of The Group Entertainment, an NYC film production and talent management company. She is the producer of HIGHER GROUND, directed by and starring Vera Farmiga, and the documentary Hot Coffee, both of which premiered in competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Her other producing credits includeBeautiful Darling (Berlin & ND/NF ‘10), Beware the Gonzo (Tribeca ‘10), Peter and Vandy (Sundance ‘09), Bass Ackwards (Sundance ‘10), and Loggerheads (Sundance ‘05).
Carly has several films in post-production, including The Art of Love, which stars Virginia Madsen and Aidan Quinn. Carly is the Executive Director of At Play Productions, a theater company for emerging artists, and is the producer of the 24 Hour Plays Off-Broadway. She holds a B.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University.
Claude Dal Farra
Claude Dal Farra, Ph.D., founded BCDF Pictures, a New York-based production company, in 2010 with his brother Brice Dal Farra and Lauren Munsch. They also created a film fund, Strategic Motion Ventures, to finance the pictures produced by BCDF. In its first year, BCDF produced four films: HIGHER GROUND; Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding; The Art of Love and Rhymes with Bananas. They are currently in pre-production on Predisposed and Liberal Arts, which will both shoot in the summer of 2011. Dal Farrapursued a doctorate in Biochemistry, and then served as Technical Director and Director of Research for a biotech company. He currently lives in New York and serves as Vice-President of Research & Development for an international chemical company.
Matt was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee where his love of film began with his weekly Sunday trip to the movies with his dad. Matt is a producer with The Group Entertainment. He was a producer of HIGHER GROUND (Sundance ‘11), Restless City (Sundance ‘11), and The Art of Love (in post-production); co-producer of Beasts of the Southern Wild (in post- production), Peter and Vandy (Sundance ‘09) and Beware the Gonzo (Tribeca ‘10); associate producer of Loggerheads (Sundance ‘05); and producer on Find Love (Slamdance ‘06) and Just Like the Son (Tribeca ‘06). He was also an associate producer of FLOW (Sundance ’08) and Familiar Strangers (LAIFF ‘08). He also produced the multi-award-winning short Facechasers and the independent television pilot, “Nicky’s Game” starring Burt Young. Matt was also partnered with producer Gill Holland in sonaBLAST! Records (Mark Geary, Kelley McRae, The Old Ceremony), which saw its first two releases (Mark Geary’s Ghosts and 3 1/3 Grand Street) go gold in Ireland.
Renn Hawkey is a founding member of the rock band Deadsy, and the producer and musical director of HIGHER GROUND. Currently living in the Hudson Valley with his wife Vera Farmiga and their two children, Renn has several projects in development, including a dark comedy about family grief called Flying Squirrels, which he wrote and is set to direct. He is also producing a film called Uncle Sam, starring HIGHER GROUND discovery Boyd Holbrook.
Jon Rubinstein started Authentic Talent and Literary Management exactly six years ago this Sundance. With offices in New York and Los Angeles, Authentic is committed to empowering its clients to powerfully and positively impact the world through their work, knowing that by doing so, audiences are empowered in turn. Additionally, Authentic works with its clients and on its own to directly impact the world, in partnership with major nonprofit organizations. HIGHER GROUND represents Authentic’s first foray into producing. Jon is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such a staggeringly great group of people led by one of the most dedicated, passionate, talented and kind artists he's ever met.
Jon is on the board of The Interdependence Project, an organization dedicated to causing social change through the practice of meditation and the study of Buddhism. He is also a dedicated supporter of Peace First, which teaches children the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement in the school environment, while working with educators to integrate social- emotional learning into schools. Jon is also proud of Authentic’s partnership with Save the Children, the world’s leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need.
Scottish born cinematographer Michael McDonough studied art at The Glasgow School of Art and The Royal College of Art in London, developing an interest in film during a Prix de Rome scholarship; later receiving a Master’s from NYU’s film program. He was recently nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography for his work on the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Winter’s Bone.
McDonough’s work on Down to the Bone (Dramatic Directing Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival) and Winter’s Bone, were collaborations with director Debra Granik. His other credits include New York, I Love You with Allen Hughes, Randy Balsmeyer and Shunji Iwai; Quid Pro Quo and Ravenous with Carlos Brooks; and Bowling for Columbine with Michael Moore (2003 Academy Award® winner for Best Documentary). He recently finished The Mortician (in 3D) directed by Gareth Roberts, and Darling Companion, directed by Lawrence Kasdan.
Sharon Lomofsky started her career in South Africa in the 1980s, working on commercials with renowned directors Ian Gabriel, Keith Rose and Jonathan Taylor. After she moved to New York, she gained international recognition for her production design of Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain, which won The Golden Lion in 1994 and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1995.
She has continued to design critically acclaimed films such as Manny and Lo; Claire Dolan; Piñero; and A Love Song For Bobby Long, as well as international box office hits, such as Bring it On; The King (Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2005); Stephanie Daley (Winner of Waldo Salt Award, Sundance 2006); El Cantante, directed by Leon Ichaso; and I Think I Love My Wife, a Chris Rock comedy.
Her most recent films include the James Marsh documentary, Man on Wire, which won the Oscar® for Best Documentary in 2009; Assassination of a High School President; and A Year in Mooring. Most recently, she designed for Larry Blume’s Tiger Eyes, starring Willa Holland, an adaptation of Judy Blume’s novel of the same name.