Some of us remember our childhood summers with fondness. These were times filled with freedom, play and discovery. We spent them in places that were safe and supportive.
Some of us remember how these times were blended with personal and familial struggles that contrasted with such idyllic scenes.
“The Florida Project” is a fascinating combination of these two scenarios.
Set on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World, the movie follows 6-year-old Moonee and her rebellious young mother Halley over the course of a single summer. Halley struggles to support them. They live week to week at The Magic Castle, a budget motel managed by Bobby, whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion.
The Utah Film Center and the Grand County Public Library will present a free screening of “The Florida Project” on Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m., at Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
“We always aim to play a fiction film in our monthly free-film series, one that otherwise isn’t playing in Moab on the big screen,” Utah Film Center Film Program Coordinator David Eyer Davis said. “This film stood out among many great indie dramas because it’s such a compassionate look at youth, poverty and finding beauty in the margins. It seemed like the right story for this spring.”
“This film is not a sentimental Hollywood story,” Grand County Library Assistant Jessie Magleby said. “It is a compelling mixture of compassion, distress, tenderness and struggle. It realistically and artfully portrays a challenging version of American life that many must confront daily.”
In the film, little Moonee runs free with almost no adult supervision. Her surroundings are harsh, but Moonee and her ragtag friends manage to create grand adventures for themselves.
“She and her friends manage to get into all manner of mischief,” Magleby said. “Bobby is one of a few adults in the story who keep an eye on the little girl and her friends, even while they drive him crazy with their hi-jinks.”
As Halley adopts increasingly dangerous behaviors, Bobby tries his best to watch out for them.
Halley tries to shelter Moonee from the worst of their realities. Moonee has no idea of her mother’s true situation. Moonee innocently enjoys her summer.
Of the three main characters, one face will be familiar to many moviegoers: Three-time Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe plays Bobby.
The other two main characters are “brilliantly played by first-time actresses with no previous professional acting experience,” Magleby said. “Their performances are marvelously authentic and pitch-perfect.”
“The Florida Project” was selected for this month’s screening because numerous residents have requested it.
“The exceptional quality of film making, and the film’s authentic, nonjudgmental insight into Moonee’s world were additional reasons to include it in the film series,” Magleby said.
“Be prepared for strong language and a few violent scenes,” she said, “but also to have your heart touched by this harrowing and beautiful movie.”
Acclaimed film “The Florida Project” comes to Star Hall on March 15
“This film stood out among many great indie dramas because it’s such a compassionate look at youth, poverty and finding beauty in the margins. It seemed like the right story for this spring.”
When: Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Cost: Free; Rated R
For more information about upcoming films at Star Hall, go to: utahfilmcenter.org/events/category/moab/upcoming/.