HOLD UP, a thought-provoking short film premiering 19 May at the Romford Film Festival, is based on a real-life encounter with an East African immigrant late one night in a deserted New York subway station. “Of my many interactions with people experiencing homelessness, none was as poignant, revealing or tragically star-crossed,” said writer-director Alex Rollins Berg. “By making HOLD UP, I am inviting audiences to join me in confronting my privileged role in an unjust social system, while seeking to dissuade harmful stereotypes.”
HOLD UP stars Philip Ettinger, who studied at the Globe Theatre in London before gaining acclaim alongside Ethan Hawke and Amanda Seyfried in Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. He went on to play the young adult versions of Mark Ruffalo’s twin characters in HBO’s I Know This Much is True. Also starring in HOLD UP is Renrick Palmer in a breakout performance that has already garnered praise. An immigrant himself, and U.S. Air Force veteran, Palmer is currently portraying Jackie Robinson for the History Channel.
HOLD UP was filmed in the Harlem neighborhoods where the real events took place. The production team put in weeks of reconnaissance to surreptitiously shoot the subway scenes. Broadway hair and makeup designer Earon Nealey created the look to bring authenticity and dignity to the character of immigrant Hashim.
Filmmaker Berg’s previous film, Ruth, won a Best of Fest Award at the 2020 New Renaissance Festival in London, where it was also nominated for Best International Short. HOLD UP will screen on the first day of the Romford Film Festival alongside Craig Freimond’s New Material at Premiere Cinemas. Ticket information can be found here.