Hold Up Image

Hold Up

By Alan Ng | September 14, 2022

If anything, these last two years have shown us that as human beings, we survive, thrive even, on human connections. This idea is explored in writer-director Alex Rollins Berg’s short film, Hold Up.

Graham (Philip Ettinger) is a busy adult who is in a rush to get home at the request of his girlfriend… it’s always important. It’s late, dark, and Graham is trying to appear invisible on the subway platform. His plan is foiled when he is approached by a homeless East African man, Hashim (Renrick Palmer). Hashim tries to sell him a special bottle of lotion, and when Graham declines, Hashim becomes frustrated. Feeling desperate, Hashim says he needs money for a meal. Having no cash, Graham is talked into buying Hashim a slice of pizza across the subway entrance. With that single slice of pizza comes a surprising encounter.

“[Graham’s] plan is foiled when approached by a homeless East African man…”

Engagement is the key to any short film. Filmmakers have mere seconds to grab the attention of an audience to walk them down the pathway of their story. Writer/director Berg opens with a situation we’ve all been in. The urgency to get home and the approach of a homeless person asking for money. The normal (albeit cold) response is to say no and defuse the situation quickly, but what if? What if the encounter continues? What if you sense the desperation of the homeless man? What if you opened your heart just a tiny bit? Hold Up  brilliantly asks those questions and forces us to ask ourselves, “What would I do?”

Already Berg has an eye for storytelling behind the camera. Every shot looks professional, and the performances of leads Ettinger and Palmer are about as authentic as you can get.

Hold Up is an engaging short film. It’s easy to place ourselves in this situation. But what if…

Hold Up is currently on its film festival run. Its next screening is in London 0n September 22 at New Renaissance Film Festival. 

Hold Up (2022)

Directed and Written: Alex Rollins Berg

Starring: Philip Ettinger, Renrick Palmer, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Hold Up Image

"…What if you opened your heart just a tiny bit?"

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