The Red Carpet Led the Path to the Opening Night Feature Film The Florida Project
Everyone was a star on Friday night for those who attended the Opening Night Feature, The Florida Project, at The Music Hall. Leading the way from Market Street to the doors of the hall, was the carpet we’ve all dreamed about walking down: The Red Carpet. The NHFF tradition was once again attracting folks of all ages to dress to the nines to see the film that’s been raved about by platforms like the LA Times, which began by walking The Red Carpet.
Each walker was met with flashing lights and smiles as they walked up to the hall. It was a moment some thought wouldn’t come because of the massive holes that had been in the street less than twenty-four hours before! However, there was no way the NHFF would let this tradition die.
As the audience settled into their seats, Executive Director of the film festival, Nichole Gregg, was welcomed to the stage by an enormous applause. Gregg expressed her gratitude and sincere thanks to all of the sponsors of the event and to the volunteers who have helped plan and manage the ever growing festival. She said, “we wouldn’t be where we are without the help of sponsors and volunteers.”
Friday’s Opening Night Feature, The Florida Project, tells the story of families living in and out of budget motels on the side of a Florida highway, not far from Disney World. Framed within the summer vacation misadventures of 6-year-old Moonee, a young girl living with her mother in a room at the Magic Kingdom Motel, The Florida Project paints a picture that is at once whimsical and poignant.
Starring Willem Dafoe as the soft-hearted motel manger with a stern exterior, and introducing Brooklynn Prince as Moonee and Bria Vinaite as her mother Halley, The Florida Project explores the small family’s struggle to make ends meet. Despite growing tensions and Halley’s growing desperation to make a living in any way possible, the film is presented through Moonee’s eyes, and so the hardship always remains at arms length. Throughout the majority of the film, real world adversity is second to the central narrative of a young girl’s summer which is friendship, drippy ice cream cones, stolen glances of Disney World fireworks, and evenings spent safe in bed with her beloved mother.
The packed audience in the Music Hall on Friday night experienced laughter, joy, and heartache along with Moonee and the characters who inhabit her world, and were treated to an incredible story of childhood, poverty, family, and the magic of summer.
By Abbi Sleeper