UPDATE: New information has come to light about this film. Please read our update here.
In what can only be described as art imitating life imitating art imitating life, a new movie about barista competitions is about to be released. It’s called Higher Grounds. We are mostly sure it’s real, but not completely sure.
It all began with a screengrab from Reddit sent to us via text by a longtime Sprudge scooper. It was an invite to an advanced private screening of the “coffee-infused comedy.”
“Is this real?” asked the accompanying message. We didn’t know, but we went ahead and made this kind of troll-y Instagram post about it anyway. (We love the barista competitions. We joke because we love.)
As per the invite, which is in a very small font and looks frankly unprofessional, the synopsis of Higher Grounds is as follows:
Coffee aficionado Jo (Kate Nash, GLOW) is doing her best to stay afloat running her own coffee shop alongside a band of unpredictable colleagues, but nothing seems to be going her way. She can make a latte better than anyone, but her customers have trouble getting past one thing: her coffee shop is vegan. Drowning in debt and with everything on the line, Jo and her team of misfits gear up as the underdogs for the World Barista Championships, where she’ll face her “full fat full cream” archrival Rudy (Toby Sebastian, Game of Thrones). Jo will finally have a chance to prove herself in the dairy-dominated world of coffee, and, most importantly, win the big cash prize.
The case also includes Saoirse-Monica Jackson of Derry Girls, Hugh Dennis and Jenny Rainsford of Fleabag, and VEEP’s Sally Phillips (you know her as Finnish Prime Minister Minna Häkkinen) playing what we can only hope is a Nordic character loosely based on either Koppi’s Anne Lunell, or longtime WBC judge Sonja Bjork Grant.
Beyond this screen grab, sourced from Reddit, there’s no real information about the movie anywhere on the internet. No IMDB page, no website, and not a single link or piece of information associated with the film from any of the cast or crew. There is no mention of it on the website for the Arclight Theatre in Pasadena, where the screening is supposedly taking place tonight (perhaps because it is a private screening). But in a Kenya AA juicy twist, the Arclight has confirmed a private screening tonight at that time at that location for an “untitled” film. Could this be Higher Grounds?
Assuming this feature is real, we have a few nits we’d like to pick. First and foremost, there is no “big cash prize” in barista competitions. WBC winners can certainly go on to earn good money on the consultant and brand ambassador circuit, but not in form of a competition purse. That’s just Hollywood hokum. The other weird plot point of the movie revolves around alternative milks, which of course, aren’t allowed (stupidly, we might add).
Flawed though the fundamental elements of the plot may be, we still very much want Higher Grounds to be a real motion picture. Sally Phillips is a treasure, and seeing her in any coffee competition-related role would be an absolute dream. Add in the bank teller guy from Fleabag a guy who got GoT, and you’ve got a picture worth seeing, if in fact it’s real.
Here’s one thing I can say for sure, and you can hold me to this: if this movie exists, Sprudge will host a public screening. If that means I personally have to come out of pocket to get this film screened at a local indie theatre then so be it.
If you have any information on Higher Grounds or are Sally Phillips, please PLEASE contact Sprudge immediately. This movie might be real, it might not, but our interest is incredibly real, and that counts for something.
UPDATE: One tipster made us aware of a post made a few months back by Saoirse-Monica Jackson, providing photo confirmation of the movie. So, who’s up for a screening?