News / Arts & Entertainment

Religious Woman Navigates Crisis of Faith in 'Higher Ground'

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

Actress Vera Farmiga, nominated for an Oscar in 2010 for her role in "Up In The Air," tries her hand at directing in a new drama about a religious woman questioning her faith. Alan Silverman has this look at Higher Ground.



"All right, now with everyone's eyes closed …no one looking around …raise your hand if you've made a decision today."


Bible school is a powerful influence on young Corinne. From the moment the Midwestern farm girl declares herself "saved," her Christian faith guides her in her decisions on marriage and family with her high school sweetheart. But events lead Corinne to question that faith.

CORINNE: "What do you see when you look at me? Mother of your children? A virtuous woman? Handmaiden of the Lord?"

ETHAN: "We are waging a battle here for your soul. We want you in heaven."


CAPTION
Vera Farmiga in a scene from "Higher Ground"

Vera Farmiga stars as the adult Corinne and makes her directing debut with Higher Ground. She acknowledges that the story can trigger strong reactions.

"It's tricky subject matter about doubt, the notion of doubt in faith. It is something that everyone, no matter what your religion or spiritual tenets or philosophy about life is, contends with at some point in their life," Farmiga says.

"Lord help me because I can't feel you. I feel nothing. Draw near to me Lord. Come on, where are you, huh? Where are you?"

"The subject matter is tough for any of us," the actress-director admits. "If you were to direct it, you would have to have a certain measure of introspection and take inventory of what your 'spiritual goods' are and say 'what is my concept of God? What is my concept of holiness or of a successful soul? How do I find a way to relate to every single character, whether I like them or not?' It's a real lesson in openness and receptivity."

CAPTION
Vera Farmiga and Dagmara Dominiczyk in "Higher Ground"

Farmiga says a major challenge was to convince the cast - including herself - not to criticize the characters or their choices.

"People come with their own memories, perceptions, afflictions and their own experiences. Often, I found that the actors wanted to lash out at these characters and make them unrelatable and caricatured," she says.

CAPTION
Joshua Leonard and Vera Farmiga in "Higher Ground"

Co-star Joshua Leonard admits he started out by judging his character, Corinne's husband Ethan. Leonard says that changed after Farmiga arranged for him to spend time with fundamentalist Christians.

"When I started going to churches and watching things, when those people are singing and raising their hands and 'feeling the Spirit,' they are not judging anything," he notes. "They are in a place of complete and absolute receptivity. Part of what I think opened my heart up through the process of doing this film was (learning) that maybe I make it too damned hard  on myself to let go."

Still, Vera Farmiga insists Higher Ground is about a woman's search for love and honesty - with her faith as one part of the journey.

"It is not a religious film. It is a film with the backdrop of faith, and I find that non-believers and believers alike can draw something very powerful from it," Farmiga says.

Higher Ground
is inspired by the 2002 memoir This Dark World by Carolyn S. Briggs. She also co-wrote the screenplay.

You May Like

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”