Celine Held

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Celine Held
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States of American
Alma materNew York University
  • Director
  • writer
  • actress
WebsiteOfficial website

Celine Held is an American film director, writer, and actress. Her debut feature film Topside, co-directed with her partner Logan George, premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival.[2] Her short film Caroline that she co-wrote, co-directed and starred in, was nominated for the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.[3] Her additional short film work has premiered at Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival and in the Narrative and Midnight competitions at South by Southwest.[4]

Early life and education

Held was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is a dual US and UK citizen.[5] Held met her partner Logan George at New York University, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama.[6]


Short Films

Held and George's first short film, Mouse, premiered at South by Southwest in 2017.[7] Held was then named among the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" in Filmmaker Magazine's annual list with her partner Logan George in 2017.[8] Held and George's second short film Babs was short-listed for the British Independent Film Awards in 2018.[9] Their short film Lockdown premiered at Sundance Film Festival[10], and went on to play at Outfest[11] and South by Southwest in 2019.[12]

Held and George's short film Caroline was nominated for the Short Film Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and screened at Telluride Film Festival[13] and South by Southwest.[14] Caroline went on to win awards at over 30 film festivals and was short-listed for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards.[15] Held also played the mother of the titular character in Caroline, a role that she reprised for Held and George's feature film debut Topside.


Held and George's first feature film Topside premiered at 77th Venice International Film Festival, the first American film in 13 years to premiere in the Critics' Week competitionTopside won the Mario Serandrei Award for Best Technical Achievement at Venice,[16] and the jury award for Best Director at South by Southwest.[17] Topside has been praised by critics, landing on The Hollywood Reporter's list of the 20 Best Films From the Toronto and Venice Festivals.[18] Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter said the film is "a striking debut, cinematic and affecting."[19] Eric Kohn of Indiewire called the debut film "riveting," saying, "Logan George and Celine Held's debut is a taut mother-daughter survivor story with a breakthrough performance [at] its center."[20]

Held has also been praised for her pivotal role in Topside, with critics calling her performance "harrowing," "unnerving," and "gutwrenching."[21]

Held & George's research for their feature film debut Topside has been extensive. The pair created multiple documentary shorts documenting homelessness, including 50 Moments, which premiered at South by Southwest as an art installation.[22] Held worked with lead 6 year old actress Zhaila Farmer for a year before production.[23] Held & George spent time in the tunnels underneath New York City in the years before production on Topside, and credit the inspiration for the film to Held's experiences working for Jumpstart Americorps, and to books The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City by Jennifer Toth and The Tunnel: the Underground Homeless of New York City by Margaret Morton (photographer).[24]


  1. "SXSW 2020 Film Awards". New York University. April 15, 2020. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  2. Nick Vivarelli (July 21, 2020). "Venice Critics' Week Lineup to Include 'The Rossellinis,' U.S. drama 'Topside". Variety. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  3. Ben Dalton (April 11, 2018). "Cannes announces short films selection for 2018 Competition and Cinéfondation". Screen Daily. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  4. Cody Corrall (September 3, 2020). "Venice 2020 Women Directors: Meet Celine Held – "Topside"". Women and Hollywood. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  5. Maria Sciullo (August 28, 2020). "Butler native and Vincentian alum to premiere movie at Venice Film Festival". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  6. Sharon Eberson (May 8, 2020). "Butler native heads to Cannes with only USA short film in competition". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  7. Claudette Godfrey (October 25, 2017). "2017 SXSW Film Festival Selections: Midnight Shorts [Video]". South by Southwest. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  8. Scott Macaulay (October 25, 2018). "Celine Held and Logan George". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  9. "Shorts Longlist 2018". British Independent Film Awards. October 25, 2018. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  10. "2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: INDIE EPISODIC, SHORTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED". Sundance Film Festival. December 3, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  11. Outfest (March 5, 2019). "Short Films". Outfest. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  12. Neha Aziz (December 18, 2019). "Narrative Shorts: 2019 SXSW Film Festival Selections [Video]". South by Southwest. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  13. Telluride Film Festival. "Telluride Film Festival". Telluride Film Festival. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  14. Claudette Godfrey (November 26, 2018). "2018 SXSW Film Festival Selections: Narrative Shorts [Video]". South by Southwest. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  15. Sarah Salovaara (December 20, 2018). "Short Film: Caroline, Directed by Celine Held and Logan George". Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  16. Steve Pond (September 12, 2020). "Nomadland' Wins Golden Lion Award at Venice Film Festival'". The Wrap. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  17. Dave McNary (March 24, 2020). "SXSW Film Festival Unveils 2020 Winners After Cancellation". Variety (magazine). Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  18. David Rooney, Jordan Mintzer, Deborah Young, Stephen Dalton, Sheri Linden, Boyd van Hoeij (September 19, 2020). "'Hollywood Reporter Critics' Picks: 20 Best Films From the Toronto and Venice Festivals'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 29, 2020.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  19. Sheri Linden (September 8, 2020). "Topside Film Review, Venice 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  20. Eric Kohn (September 8, 2020). "Topside' Review: A Child Raised Beneath the NYC Subways Sees the Light in Riveting Debut'". Indiewire. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  21. Rodrigo Perez (September 9, 2020). "Topside': A Mother & Daughter Struggle To Survive New York's Underground Tunnels In A Wrenching Drama [Venice Review]'". The Playlist. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  22. Hailey Hess (February 5, 2020). "Announcing SXSW 2020 Art Program Installations". SXSW. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  23. Ally Johnson (September 10, 2020). "Topside': Celine Held & Logan George Discuss Their Gripping Debut Feature & Its Venice Debut [Interview]'". The Playlist. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  24. Neha Aziz (March 2, 2020). "Logan George and Celine Held Discuss Their Drama Topside – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus". South by Southwest. Retrieved October 30, 2020.

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