In July, Orange County Library System will host Explore Florida, a series of events which survey Florida’s rich history and cultural traditions. In concert with this series, we’ve selected a number of films – all of which are available for free through the library’s collection – that are set throughout the Sunshine State.
Director Sean Baker’s empathetic coming of age film, The Florida Project, made critical waves when it was released in 2018 due in large part to the film’s setting: The too-often overlooked stretch of sun-stained souvenir shops and stuccoed storefronts that sprawl southward from Central Florida’s world-famous attractions. For many, this area is a harsh testament to the gaudiness and inequalities that percolate out from the “Happiest Place on Earth.” For Moonee, the film’s 6-year-old main character, this stretch of road is a kingdom, full of adventures just waiting to be had. The film walks an emotional tight-rope between the desperation of poverty and the exuberance of childhood which results in a movie-viewing experience you won’t soon forget.
Crawl (available through the DVD Vault)
There’s no shortage of dangerous animals that call Florida home. From poisonous snakes and brain-devouring amoebas, to inexperienced electric scooter drivers, danger lurks behind every corner. Crawl, the 2019 creature-feature from veteran horror producer Sam Raimi, highlights one of Florida’s most popular natural predators, alligators, as they team up with a hurricane to ravage the Tampa-St. Petersburg metropolitan area. If you’re willing to just sightly suspend your disbelief, Crawl is guaranteed to be the most fun you’ll have watching a movie this side of Sharknado.
Adaptation (available through the DVD collection)
Following the critical success of Being John Malkovich, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman was commissioned to adapt The Orchid Thief, a non-fiction book by Susan Orlean about horticultural poachers in South Florida. Finding it difficult to overcome the constraints of the source material – and his own creative shortcomings – Kaufman veers his adaptation into surreal waters, ultimately landing on a semi-autobiographical film which features himself and a fictional twin brother as the main characters. It’s a bizarre concept, but thanks to artful direction from Spike Jonze and a memorable performance from Nicolas Cage – who plays both Kaufman brothers – the film is a rewarding piece of semi-fiction that examines love and human connection in an increasingly distanced society.
The Yearling (available through the DVD vault)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings classic Florida novel about a young child and her adopted fawn, is loving reproduced in this 1946 film which was nominated for eight Academy Awards including best motion picture and best actor for star Gregory Peck.