Director of 'The Florida Project:' Poverty Isn't Just a Florida Problem – Sojourners
Sean Baker is the co-writer and director of The Florida Project — a film that explores the lives of people living in budget motels near Disney World. Baker tells the story through the perspective of Moonee (Brooklyn Prince), a child living in the motel with her single mom Halley (Bria Vinaite). Sojourners spoke with Baker about what he hopes to achieve with this film.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Christina Colón, Sojourners: You said in an interview, “In these crazy times, cinema can be entertainment, and it also can shine a light on issues and make us aware.” I personally couldn’t agree more. And so I was wondering, in a time when TANF, the Affordable Care Act, and other government assistance programs are facing public scrutiny, what do you hope your film will contribute to the conversation?
Sean Baker, director of The Florida Project: You’re actually the first journalist who’s bringing this up. This is an important thing. We’re trying to get our film in front of policy makers. We would like a congressional screening on this. Now what I’m seeing in the area is that there is only so much that the community can actually do without funding. We have the local government, we have an agency who provides social services to the homeless in that area, we have philanthropists, and the private sector all trying but it requires more than that. My hope is that this film is going to take the first step toward shining a light on this issue, that people will want to take action and push for federal funding. I would like to definitely emphasize that this is not just an Orlando problem, this is a national problem. It might be happening under your nose. That’s why they are called the “hidden