TOPSIDE follows Nikki (Celine Held) and her five-year-old daughter Little (Zhaila Farmer) as they navigate a perilous life in a close-knit and loving existence in the cavernous subway tunnels beneath Manhattan. When city officials raid their encampment, mother and daughter are forced “topside” into a nocturnal world that is even more chaotic, menacing and unpredictable than their subterranean routine. TOPSIDE showcases an stunning central performance by Zhaila Farmer, making her feature-film debut, filmmakers Logan George and Celine Held (who also stars as Little’s mom, Nikki) cast a child’s-eye gaze onto two very different environments — one unspooling in muted darkness, the other in harsh and blinding light — eliciting wonder, fury and suspense out of a mother’s desperate and heartbreaking attempts to keep her child safe from harm across one frantic and frigid wintry night. Co-director and co-writers, Logan George and Celine Held join us for a conversation on their affecting tale of the deep love and sacrifice rooted in the parent-child bond and the daunting challenges of setting their riveting feature debut in the underbelly of New York City.
Venice Film Festival, Critics’ Week Competition – Winner
South by Southwest – Jury Award Winner
About the filmmakers – Celine Held & Logan George – Writer & Director, ‘Nikki’ (Held), Editor (George) Celine Held & Logan George are a co-writer/director duo based in Brooklyn, New York. Logan & Celine’s debut feature film TOPSIDE will have its world premiere at the 77th Venice Film Festival in the International Critics’ Week Competition. Their work as a team has premiered in competition at Cannes Film Festival (Palme d’Or nominee 2018), Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, SXSW (Jury Award for Best Director 2020), among many more. They were named as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2017. See more at elofilms.com.
79% on RottenTomatoes
“Held delivers an unnerving and sophisticated performance… Farmer emerges as a true revelation, delivering the most sensitive and sophisticated child performance since Quevanzané Wallis.” -Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“Kinetic and riveting.” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“…in shining a stark and unflinching light at the marginalized, Held and George have made an arresting debut that certainly poises them as ones to watch in the future. – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist