Hayley Downs, a half-Cracker* stuck in Brooklyn, discovers that the eccentric Florida childhood she left behind is the key to surviving love and loss in a disconnected world.
Hayley grew up in hard drinking, gun-toting, backwoods Central Florida. Not the Disney World Florida or the Florida where your grandparents moved when they retired. It’s the Florida you don't send postcards from. Though encouraged by her father to embrace her Cracker lineage, at 17 she flees, seeking the high life in Miami, then Brooklyn. But everything changes when her father is diagnosed with terminal cancer and she moves home to help her mother care for him. Desperate to cope with his impending death, she sets out to film his hunting buddies and their annual hometown wild game feast. What starts as a documentary about a quirky community event becomes a tragicomic odyssey of self-discovery through a vanishing culture, betrayal, addiction, illness and a whole lotta livin’ and lovin’.
*In Florida, “Cracker” is a term of pride referring to the descendants of Florida pioneers known for their ability to survive in the treacherous Florida wilderness. It is often confused with but unrelated to the slur meaning ignorant bigot.
We are both second-generation Floridians who share a passion for wild, weird, spooky beautiful Florida as well as a yearning to reclaim our personal connections to the natural world. We started this project together over 10 years ago when we filmed Hayley’s father’s wild game feast. Hayley continued to obsessively document her family and her life while Julie traveled deep into the heart of Cracker culture. In 2005, Julie launched Swamp Cabbage: Cracker Culture in a Fast Food Nation, a hybrid documentary and wild game tasting in Miami funded by the NEH. Now we are barreling toward completion on Swamp Cabbage: A Dark & Sweaty Documentary, the feature film about Hayley’s life and the product of our long-term collaboration, friendship and shared commitment to the real Florida.
We plan to release Swamp Cabbage in early 2012 in conjunction with a series of wild game feasts across the country. We’ve already hosted three sold-out events in Miami, Brooklyn, and San Francisco where chefs, hunters, foragers and jerky-makers pitched in to serve up local food with a Cracker twist – pig candy, alligator bites, soft-shell turtle stew, wild boar, a “jerk-off” handmade jerky competition and moonshine. Thanks to the wild game feasts and love from funders like Chicken and Egg Pictures, Winston Foundation, Southern Foodways Alliance, Film Arts Foundation, Savory Thymes, and San Francisco Film Society, we have just wrapped production. We are now ready to edit the full film.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
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THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT! WE CAN’T WAIT TO FINISH THIS FILM AND MAKE YOU PROUD!
Hayley & Julie
The Gals from Swamp Cabbage Pictures
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR GOODIES
- (31 days)