Vertical Entertainment Acquires SXSW & Venice Winner – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Vertical Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Celine Held and Logan George’s feature directorial debut Topside, slating it for a day-and-date release on March 25.

The award-winning drama starring Held, Zhaila Farmer, Jared Abrahamson and musician Fatlip is inspired by true events. It follows five-year-old Little (Farmer) and her mother Nikki (Held), who live underneath the streets of New York City, in a community that has claimed long-abandoned subway tunnels as its home. When the pair are forced to flee above ground into a cold winter night, they are plunged into a challenging world of chaos and tragedy that makes their uncertain underground life seem idyllic by comparison.

Topside claimed SXSW’s Special Jury Award for Narrative Feature when it premiered there in 2020, subsequently going on to win the Venice Film Festival’s Mario Serandrei Award for Best Technical Achievement. Held and George penned the film, with Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Kara Durrett, Jonathan Montepare, Melina Lizette, Josh Godfrey and Daniel Crown producing. K Period Media, Level Forward, and Red Crown produced and financed, with Likely Story also on board as a producer. Adrienne Becker exec produced alongside Yoni Liebling, Kimberly Steward and Christy Spitzer Thornton.

“We’re beyond excited to share Topside with the world, and Vertical is the perfect partner to champion this story,” said Held and George in a joint statement. “Topside is the culmination of years of research, working with families across New York City and learning their stories. We are thrilled audiences will get a chance to experience the ride of this film in theaters and at home and hope it will challenge viewers’ notions about people living without housing. As the writers and directors, we are endlessly grateful for Vertical’s incredible support in bringing this film to the world.”

Topside is a critically acclaimed story that, at its core, is about the deep love and emotional connection between a mother and her child who survive in this atmospheric underground world,” added Vertical Entertainment Partner, Peter Jarowey. “It’s both heartbreaking and exhilarating from start to finish and we’re incredibly proud to bring Celine and Logan’s feature film debut to those who are sure to be just as captivated by the tale as we were.”

Vertical Entertainment is a global independent distributor, which was founded in 2012. Other upcoming releases from the company include the Sundance thriller Emily the Criminal, starring Aubrey Plaza, which it co-acquired with Roadside Attractions; Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr.’s Independent Spirit Award-nominated Wild Indian, starring Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer; Krystin Ver Linden’s Alice, starring Keke Palmer, Common, Gaius Charles and Jonny Lee Miller, which premiered at Sundance 2022; and romantic comedy The Hating Game, starring Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell.

Jarowey negotiated the deal to acquire Topside on behalf of Vertical Entertainment, with WME Independent on behalf of the filmmakers.

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