Run time: 115 mins

Director: Sean Baker

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Caleb Landry Jones, Christopher Rivera

Synopsis: Set amongst families living on the poverty line in a series of budget motels in Orlando, THE FLORIDA PROJECT follows the summer adventures of precocious Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all the while living in the shadows of Disney World.


Director/Co-Writer /Producer/Editor, Sean Baker [Take Out (2008), Prince of Broadway (2009),  Starlet (2012), Tangerine (2015)] has said about The Florida Project:

“A modern day ‘Our Gang’. This is how I like to describe The Florida Project – ‘Our Gang aka The Little Rascals’. The Hal Roach-produced comedy shorts of the ‘20s and ‘30s essentially focused on children who lived in poverty during the Great Depression.  But their economic state was the backdrop.  The children’s humorous adventures were the focus.”

The film’s title is an ironic tip to the term used by Walt Disney in the 1960s, as he planned his Disney World theme park.

‘The Florida Project’, as it was known, was intended to present a distinct vision with its own diverse set of attractions. Walt Disney’s original plans also called for the inclusion of an ‘Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow’ (EPCOT), a planned community intended to serve as a test bed for new city living innovations.

Warm, winning, and gloriously alive, The Florida Project is a deeply moving and unforgettably poignant look at childhood. Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, the film follows six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince in a stunning debut) and her rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite ) over the course of a single summer. The two live week to week at ‘The Magic Castle’, a budget hotel managed by Bobby (a career-best performance from distinguished actor Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion. Despite her harsh surroundings, the precocious and ebullient Moonee has no trouble making each day a celebration of life, her endless afternoons overflowing with mischief and grand adventure as she and her ragtag playmates – including Jancey, a new arrival to the area who quickly becomes Moon’s best friend – fearlessly explore the utterly unique world into which they’ve been thrown. Unbeknownst to Moonee, however, her delicate fantasy is supported by the toil and sacrifice of Halley, who is forced to explore increasingly dangerous possibilities in order to provide for her daughter.

Director Of Photography Alexis Zabé vividly captures the Motels that line the road on both sides of the strip, many of them exploiting the Disney mystique – infused with motifs such as pirates and castles.  A decade ago they were filled with tourists.  The remnants of those days still stand, like the establishments that charge 35 dollars for a helicopter ride and the souvenir shops where many bootleg T-shirts capitalize on the latest popular princesses. A strongly recommended film with all round top notch performances.

Images courtesy of ALTITUDE