According to Variety, A24 Films has picked up U.S. distribution rights to The Florida Project. Sean Baker, who directed the critically acclaimed 2015 indie Tangerine (famously shot on iPhones), helmed from a script he co-wrote with his Tangerine writing partner Chris Bergoch. Two-time Oscar-nominated actor Willem Dafoe (Finding Dory) stars. Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class) co-stars, along with newcomers Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite.
The story is set in and around a motel in the outskirts of Orlando and centers on the lives of desperate people living on the fringes of society. A precocious 6 year-old girl named Moonee (Prince) and her group of friends who manage to fill their summer break with adventure and wonder while the adults who surround them struggle with homelessness and hard times. The drama premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight to favorable reviews. A small bidding war ensued, with A24 Films coming up as the winner. According to Variety, Amazon Studios, Neon, and Annapurna all expressed interest in the title.
The Florida Project has earned near unanimous praise so far from critics on the ground at Cannes. IndieWire‘s Eric Kohn wrote: “The Florida Project further cements Baker’s status as one of the most innovative American directors working today, but he’s also an essential advocate for the stories this country often doesn’t get to see.” Variety‘s Owen Glieberman commented in his positive review, “As a filmmaker, Baker is a graceful neorealist voyeur who thrives on improvisation, and his storytelling, in The Florida Project, is mostly just a series of anecdotes. But that turns out to be enough.”
Baker has been quietly building a solid rep in the art-house community after having directed the well-received films Prince of Broadway and Starlet. Tangerine bolstered that rep further. He earned Independent Spirit Awards for both directing and producing the latter. As of now, The Florida Project does not yet have a release date.