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Higher Ground
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Higher Ground (2011) More at IMDbPro »

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Higher Ground -- Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, HIGHER GROUND, tells the story of a thoughtful woman's struggles with belief, love and trust.
Higher Ground -- A small evangelical Christian community is thrown off balance when one of their own, Corrine (Vera Farmiga), begins to question her faith.
Higher Ground -- Clip: You Turn Your Head When I Kiss You
Higher Ground -- Clip: Corrine Tries To Find Her Tongue
Higher Ground -- Clip: Help Me


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Up 38% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Carolyn S. Briggs (screenplay) and
Tim Metcalfe (screenplay) ...
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Release Date:
26 August 2011 (USA) See more »
A chronicle of one woman's lifelong struggle with her faith. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
1 win & 7 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Great film about one woman's spiritual journey and struggle with faith See more (32 total) »


  (in credits order)

Joshua Leonard ... Ethan Miller

Norbert Leo Butz ... Pastor Bill

Michael Chernus ... Ned

Vera Farmiga ... Corinne Walker
McKenzie Turner ... Young Corrine Walker

Donna Murphy ... Kathleen Walker

John Hawkes ... CW Walker
Matthew Dubas ... Salesman
Taylor Schwencke ... Young Wendy Walker
Jillian Lindig ... Mrs. Tittle

Bill Irwin ... Pastor Bud
Alden Rosakranse ... Tim

Taissa Farmiga ... Teenage Corinne Walker
James Noon ... Kirk
Kaitlyn Rae King ... Teenage Wendy Walker

Boyd Holbrook ... Teenage Ethan Miller
Brandon Boyer ... Mike
Harrison Basch ... Renegade
Noah Bowman ... Renegade
Booker James Winter ... Biology Teacher
Gene DeWitt ... Gene
Flynn Hawkey ... Baby Abigail
Warren Haynes ... Warren
Luella Roche ... Younger Abigail Miller
Sarah Banks ... Younger Lily Miller

Dagmara Dominczyk ... Annika
Barbara Blackburn ... Deborah (as Barbara Tuttle)

Molly Hawkey ... Molly

Ebon Moss-Bachrach ... Luke
Joe Leary ... Joe
Frank L. Goodyear ... Dr. Frank Barnes (voice)

Reagan Leonard ... Hope
Charles Glaser ... Woody

Lucy Owen ... Joanne

Nina Arianda ... Wendy
Joseph Sinagra ... Cop
Sarah Little ... Older Abigail Miller
Zoë Allegra ... Old Lily Miller (as Zoe Pipa)
Mathew Biltonen ... Gabe Miller (as Mathew Bieutonen)
Sonia T. Gittens ... Nurse
Eli Rubinstein ... Seven Year Old Boy
Amy Helm ... Amy
MacHan Taylor ... MacHan
Jorgen Jorgensen ... Jorgen
Tom Cherwin ... Man in Counseling Office
Laurel S. Andretta ... Woman in Counseling Office
Karen Keefe ... Receptionist
Jack Gilpin ... Dr. Dick Adams
Oliver Wood ... Oliver

Sean Mahon ... Liam Donovan

Natalie Thomas ... Liam's Wife
Terry McKenna ... Pawn Shop Worker

Deborah Hedwall ... Faye
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Stephen W. Tenner ... Parishioner

Alison Ball ... Rebecca - Believer (uncredited)
Ralph Cashen ... Soccer coach (uncredited)
Colin Holmes ... Library Patron (uncredited)
P.J. Jentsch ... Peter (uncredited)
Phillip X Levine ... Zealot (uncredited)
George Peck ... Grooms Father (uncredited)

Laurent Rejto ... Gallery Patron (uncredited)
Dannielle Rose ... Gabe's Teacher (uncredited)

Directed by
Vera Farmiga 
Writing credits
Carolyn S. Briggs (screenplay) and
Tim Metcalfe (screenplay)

Carolyn S. Briggs (memoir "This Dark World")

Produced by
Carolyn S. Briggs .... executive producer
Jonathan Burkhart .... executive producer
Brice Dal Farra .... executive producer
Claude Dal Farra .... producer
Renn Hawkey .... producer
Carly Hugo .... producer
Tim Metcalfe .... executive producer
Lauren Munsch .... executive producer
Jeremy Newmark .... associate producer
Matthew Parker .... producer (as Matt Parker)
Jon Rubinstein .... producer
MacHan Taylor .... associate producer
Original Music by
Alec Puro 
Cinematography by
Michael McDonough (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Colleen Sharp 
Casting by
Kerry Barden 
Paul Schnee 
Production Design by
Sharon Lomofsky 
Art Direction by
Shawn Carroll 
Lisa Myers 
Set Decoration by
Diana Bregman 
Costume Design by
Amela Baksic 
Makeup Department
Caroline Blanchard .... hair stylist additional
Caroline Blanchard .... makeup artist additional
Ashley Fox .... makeup department head
Jeff Gautier .... additional hair stylist
Jeff Gautier .... additional makeup artist
Denise Guerra .... hair stylist additional
Denise Guerra .... makeup artist additional
Liliana Meyrick .... hair designer
Iliana Palacios .... hair stylist assistant
Iliana Palacios .... makeup artist assistant
Cynthia Vanis .... hair stylist additional
Cynthia Vanis .... makeup artist additional
Production Management
James McKay .... production manager
Jeremy Newmark .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Marymichael D'Onofrio .... second second assistant director
Barbara Maia .... second assistant director
Michael T. Meador .... first assistant director (as Michael Meador)
Art Department
Cathy Anderson .... head scenic
Justin Bregman .... property intern
Walter Carroll .... sign painter
Farley Crawford .... additional scenic
Phil Dorling .... on-set dresser
Adriana Farmiga .... gallery curator
Adriana Farmiga .... scenic
Evan Fiddler .... property master
Sean Graham .... set dresser
Leanne Gunn .... graphic designer
Susan Kaufman .... assistant greensman
Matt Kehoe .... scenic
Patricia Lowden .... greensman
Bill McKay .... construction grip
Alice Myers .... graphic designer
Anna Myers .... graphic designer
Patrick Neri .... on-set dresser
Jason Newmark .... graphic designer
Jason Nicholson .... construction
Andy Paluselli .... set dresser
Stephanie Russo .... assistant greensman
Jenny Shields .... leadman
Jean Slutzky .... additional scenic
Brian Spears .... specialty props
Nicholas Strang-Wolf .... art department production assistant
Sound Department
Ryan Collison .... foley engineer
James Demer .... sound mixer
David Fleming .... boom operator
Mariusz Glabinski .... sound effects editor
Robert Hein .... supervising sound editor
Jeremy Jones .... loop group recordist
Sylvia Menno .... dialogue editor
Jay Peck .... foley artist
Mike Perreault .... additional sound utility
Seth Tallman .... additional sound mixer
Dominick Tavella .... sound re-recording mixer
Paul Yurt .... systems engineer
Robert Fernandez .... sound re-recording mixer (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Terry Atkins .... compositor
Matt Brealey .... 3D artist
Marco de Goeij .... lead matchmover
Chris De Santo .... matchmover
Chris De Santo .... visual effects supervisor: post-production
Linus Hofmann .... lead compositor
Rachel Uwa .... compositor
Marijn Eken .... compositor (uncredited)
Chris Barnes .... stunt utility
Roy Farfel .... stunt driver
Manny Siverio .... stunt coordinator
Camera and Electrical Department
Abraham Altbuch .... additional grip
Steve Baker .... additional grip
Manuel Billeter .... camera operator: "b" camera
Rick Brick .... additional grip
Bryan Cloninger .... additional camera operator: "b" camera
Aude Cuenod .... camera intern
James Daly .... second assistant camera: "b" camera
David Damota .... grip intern
Patrick Doherty .... additional grip
Jeffrey Dutemple .... camera operator: "a" camera (as Jeff Dutemple)
Gerald Gloster .... additional grip
Christopher Graham .... media manager
Shawn Greene .... gaffer
Molly Hawkey .... still photographer
Edward Jones .... additional grip
Philip Kathrens .... additional electric (as Phil Kathrens)
Chris Koch .... key grip
Nina Kuhn .... additional gaffer
Kate Larose .... additional first assistant camera: "a" camera
Rachael Levine .... additional camera operator
Nadine Martinez .... second assistant camera: "a" camera
Jamie Merritt .... additional grip (as James D. Merritt)
Jeremy Newmark .... digital imaging supervisor
Alan Pierce .... additional camera operator
Che Roacher .... best boy grip
Satish Sahi .... additional gaffer (as Satish Shahi)
Leo Sandler .... camera operator: "c" camera
Daniel Sharnoff .... additional camera operator: "b" camera
John Shim .... third electric
Edwin Shimko .... additional second assistant camera: "b" camera
Nate Slevin .... first assistant camera: "a" camera
Caleb Smith .... additional electric
Joshua Solson .... additional electric (as Josh Solson)
Justin Suriano .... additional electric
Sean Taylor .... best boy electric
Thomas Vaughan .... additional grip (as Tom Vaughan)
Katie Waalkes .... additional second assistant camera: "b" camera (as Kathryn Waalkes)
Joy Weber .... additional electric
Robert White .... additional electric
G.T. Womack .... first assistant camera: "b" camera (as GT Womack)
Jay Feather .... camera operator (uncredited)
Casting Department
Rich Delia .... casting associate
Allison Estrin .... casting associate
Kacee Pyles .... extras casting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Chelsea Feil .... wardrobe intern (as Chelsea Lee Feil)
Tamika Jackson .... wardrobe supervisor
Erika Lilienthal .... assistant costume designer
Naomi Wolff .... additional assistant costume designer
Editorial Department
Adam Hawkey .... digital intermediate colorist (as Adam S. Hawkey)
Adam Hawkey .... digital intermediate conformist (as Adam S. Hawkey)
Jeremy Newmark .... on-line editor
Peter Saguto .... assistant editor
Music Department
Levon Broussalian .... music supervisor: The Music Collective
Rory Cowal .... musician: additional piano
Renn Hawkey .... music director
Jeremy Jones .... additional music recordist
James Lum .... musician: additional guitar
Alec Puro .... arranger
Mati Shalpak .... assistant: Alec Puro
Micki Stern .... music clearance: The Music Collective
MacHan Taylor .... vocal coach
Jorgen Jorgensen .... musician (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Lisa Myers .... picture cars
Other crew
Brittany Almeida .... first team production assistant
Michele Baker .... location manager
Pippa Bianco .... extras coordinator
John 'JR' Craigmile .... production accountant (as J.R. Craigmile)
Donna Daniels .... publicist: festival
Kimberly Feinman .... location manager
Scott Friedman .... key production assistant
Rachelle Gibson .... script supervisor
Colette Hallinan .... accounting clerk
Mark Hugo .... craft service: Good Stuff Café
Sheri Jeffrey .... attorney: distribution
Ethan Leight .... set intern
David Massee .... set intern (as David 'Dewey' Massie)
George S. Matsuo .... set intern (as George Matsuo)
Paul Miller .... security
Alinda Muszynski .... assistant location manager
Tim Nesmith .... set production assistant
Jason Newmark .... title designer
Jason Nicholson .... assistant to producers
Doug Panetta .... set intern
Mike Perreault .... set production assistant
Krysten Pollard .... assistant to producers
Kacee Pyles .... assistant production office coordinator
Kacee Pyles .... clearance and licensing
Irwin M. Rappaport .... production legal services
Brandon Rohwer .... unit publicist
Weiman Seid .... unit publicist
Erin Sweeney .... production office coordinator
Crawford Watson .... set production assistant
Mackenzie Luzzi .... additional production assistant (uncredited)
Brian O'Shea .... world sales executive (uncredited)
Rebecca Atwood .... special thanks
Wendy Cox .... thanks
Christo Dimassis .... special thanks
Flynn Hawkey .... special thanks
Amy Helm .... special thanks
Jacob Hutchings .... special thanks
Jeremy Jones .... special thanks
Brian Keady .... thanks
Elana Krausz .... special thanks
Joe Leary .... special thanks
Kyle Luker .... special thanks
Jill McGrath .... special thanks
Joseph Muszynski .... thanks
Jeemy Newmark .... special thanks
Jason Nicholson .... special thanks
Anney Perrine .... thanks
Marla Sokoloff .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for some language and sexual content
USA:109 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Vera Farmiga's directorial debutSee more »
Revealing mistakes: At the therapist's office, the wall clock is clearly not working as the second hand is not moving.See more »
SouvenirSee more »


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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Great film about one woman's spiritual journey and struggle with faith, 15 January 2012
Author: Dick Sanders from Southern California Desert, USA

Higher ground is one the finest films on its subject ever made, as well as one of the best films this year. Surprisingly, it's the directorial debut of one of our finest actors, Vera Farmiga. She's been very good in every film in which she's played any role, but is probably best known for her Oscar nominated turn in Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, opposite George Clooney. But for her own film, Farmiga has chosen a very difficult subject – one woman's struggle with her faith; her tenuous relationship with her husband inside a strictly defined religious community; and most important, her personal relationship with God.

The story covers the three-decade spiritual journey (late '50s through '70s) of Corinne, played as a little girl by McKensie Turner, as a teenager by Farmiga's younger sister, Taissa, and as a grown woman by Farmiga herself, in a performance that is brave, nuanced, and emotionally powerful. Hollywood films on this subject can either preach to the choir or have a contemptuous agenda, but Farmiga's film isn't about whether this or that religion is good or bad. It's about faith, and doubt, and finding one's way in life. In fact, this is the best work on the subject since Meryl Streep dazzled us in "Doubt." Here's how it goes: As a little girl, Corinne's pastor shows her how to invite Jesus into her heart, an idea that appeals to her since her home life is marred by a drunken father (John Hawkes) and a mother who has eyes for other men (Donna Murphy). But Corinne doesn't quite know what she's supposed to feel. She does like animals, and she also gives an accordion a try, when a door-to-door salesman pitches one to the family. Corinne's mother says, "She's not musical," to which the salesman quickly replies, "Maybe she hasn't found her instrument yet." This foreshadows Corrine's struggle to find her path to God.

Corinne is intellectually curious and has a talent for writing, and when a young guitarist asks her to write a song with him, she finds herself doing what so many teenagers have done before, and then pregnancy and a wedding follow. Corinne must then put her dreams of a writing career on hold, as she cares for the baby while her husband plays in a rock band. But a near tragic experience convinces them they need to give up this reckless life and join an evangelical Christian church. Corinne wants very badly to feel the Spirit, and to be happy with her husband in this religious community, but she doesn't feel what her pastor preaches, nor what she sees other members feeling. This is both a puzzlement and a torment to her, especially when she makes a good friend, Annika, played wonderfully by Dagmara Dominczyk, to whom loving and feeling God come easily.

This particular Christian community will be one many people recognize; they adhere to the bible's word and are happy to follow a strict patriarchal discipline. As a director, Farmiga does not judge, but those who do not subscribe to this type of religious practice may, and that would be a mistake. These are not bad people, they have chosen a life that works for them; it just may not be a good fit for Corinne. She's smart, studies the bible along with many other books, and she feels she has something valuable to share with the congregation. But when she speaks up, she's admonished by the pastor's wife for "coming very close to preaching and attempting to teach the men." She chafes under this restraint, which seems unreasonable to her. And then a second, very real, tragedy strikes, turning her struggle into a spiritual crisis. I think many people will recognize precisely this experience from their own lives: it is very real.

Farmiga's film does not hurry, the story unfolds slowly, and it also contains a fair amount of humor. I could've died laughing during a scene in which Corinne's marriage counselor tells her about "a dire MacMuffin moment," but it was no laughing matter. There are also many small everyday family scenes that may not seem of much consequence, but every piece of the story is important, so watch and listen carefully, as everything builds to one of the most emotionally powerful endings of any film this year. At the climax, Corinne speaks to the congregation, from her heart, a heart that perhaps gives too much, and also with a mind trying very hard to make sense of what it means to walk "The Higher Ground." In the end, we get a sense that Corinne will find her instrument, and that she will go on to make music with God.

Higher Ground is an excellent film and a brilliant directorial debut by Vera Farmiga, from whom I think we can expect great things in the future. I highly recommend it to all who appreciate literary quality stories that deal honestly with human feelings and relationships.

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Farmiga's Film Acts as an Honest Portrayal of Process landonlynch1
Corinne's Eye Color JaJa730
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