A24 has acquired North American distribution rights to The Florida Project, the Sean Baker-directed drama that premiered in Director’s Fortnight. A24 won the bidding over Amazon, Bleecker and Neon.
Every buyer from a major prestige distributor was there, and left quickly to mobilize. Baker, who helmed Tangerine, wrote the script with Chris Bergoch, and they focused on three children whose parents lived in roughshod hotels near the opulent Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. The children, led by the spitfire neophyte actress Brooklynn Prince, carry on with childhood adventures Tom Sawyer might envy, while their parents deal with all kinds of baggage that keeps them in the low socioeconomic strata, all under the watchful eye of a hotel manager (played by Willem Dafoe) who is cranky on the surface, but deeply connected to these children and their well being.
As in his last acclaimed outing, Tangerine, Baker mixes non-pros with experienced actors and it gives his film an authenticity. He got especially lucky with the two young girls who attended this morning’s screening, Prince and Valeria Cotto, who are as cute and natural as any youths captured on film recently. Prince he found in a local casting call in Florida; Cotto he met at a Costco, and Bria Vinate, who plays the main kid’s troubled mother, was cast for the lead off Instagram. Prince, who turns in a scene stealing performance, stole the post-screening Q&A effortlessly. Asked about Baker, the first time feature actress said “He is not like most directors. He is a fun person. I would like to live with him. He’s like my uncle.” We will be seeing more of that kid.
The film is produced by Baker, Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri and Shih-Ching Tsou. ICM Partners repped the film with CAA.
Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales for The Florida Project.
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