Sean Baker is going south. The lauded indie filmmaker of such LA-centric offerings as “Starlet” and his breakout “Tangerine” has turned his attentions to the magical, weird, and magically weird environs of Florida for his newest film, appropriately titled “The Florida Project.”
The film will make its debut later this month at Cannes as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section, a starry berth for Baker’s follow-up to the boundary-busting (shot on an iPhone!) Indie Spirit award-winning “Tangerine.” The film is one of the few hot titles available for North American buyers at this year’s festival.
When we spoke to Baker last year for an exclusive first look at the project, the filmmaker clarified the meaning of the film’s title, as our Chris O’Falt explained, “The film is not, as many believed, Sean Baker’s ‘Untitled Florida Project.’ The official title is ‘The Florida Project,’ and it refers to Florida’s Disney World. When Disney first started buying up land and planning Disney World, they referred to it as ‘The Florida Project.'”
Baker’s Florida-set film features three main characters, including Willem Dafoe. As we reported in 2016, “For the other two — a six-year-old girl and her mother — the director, who struck gold using newcomers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor in ‘Tangerine,’ again stepped beyond the normal Hollywood talent pool. The girl is played by Brooklynn Prince, who Baker said far exceeded his wildest expectations once they started shooting. To play Prince’s mother, Baker’s casting of Bria Vinaite was extremely unorthodox.”
The always forward-thinking Baker took it straight to social media. “I found and cast the mother via social media,” said Baker in 2016. “It was a enormous leap of faith, in the sense she’s going up against an Academy Award-nominated actor in Willem Dafoe, but it was gamble I’m very happy I took.”
You can get a peek at both Vinaite and Prince below, in our exclusive poster for “The Florida Project.”