2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: PAHOKEE

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Patrick Bresnan

Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan follow four teenagers through their senior year of high school in the Florida Everglades.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

Four high-school students, Na’Kerria, Jocabed, Junior, and BJ, embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. The teens navigate all of the sometimes exciting, sometimes heartbreaking rite-of-passage rituals as they make profound decisions about their futures. As they do, the pressure of Pahokee’s economic hardships weighs heavily on their shoulders – the community has placed all hopes for opportunity on them, the next generation.

Having already distinguished themselves through their sensibility and mastery in their short films (THE SEND OFF and THE RABBIT HUNT, both set in Pahokee), directors Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan return to the Sundance Film Festival with their feature debut, PAHOKEE. Lucas and Bresnan moved to the Everglades and filmed daily for years to capture the intimate and delightful moments of these four teens’ lives leading up to graduation day. This film is a culmination of the remarkable rapport the filmmakers have achieved filming within the Pahokee community, and the result is a poetic window into a unique town’s loving identity.

Some Background:

  • Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE RABBIT HUNT (2017, short)
    THE SEND OFF (2016, short)

    This marks the duo’s first feature following a string of well-received short films that have picked up awards at Cannes, SXSW, and other festivals. Lucas also edited this project, while Bresnan served as cinematographer.


  • Maida Lynn
    Past Sundance docs:


    The Genuine Article Pictures founder has produced or executive produced all of Lucas and Bresnan’s collaborations. She most recently executive produced Tribeca Film Festival audience award winner UNITED SKATES.


  • PJ Raval

    This is Raval’s first doc feature producing credit at Sundance, but he has cinematography credits on a number of alumni projects, including CITIZEN KOCH (2013), TROUBLE THE WATER (2008), and THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK (2007). As a documentary director, he most recently premiered his third feature, CALL HER GANDA, at Tribeca last year, for which he received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and labs.

  • Laurence Reymond

    This project marks Reymond’s first film credit following a background in film distribution, criticism, and programming – the latter as part of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight short films selection for several years.

Consulting Producer:

  • Monique Walton

    This is the first Sundance credit for Walton, who has produced past work that has screened at Cannes/Cinefondation and Karlovy Vary.

Executive Producers:

  • Linda Dodwell

    Dodwell has previously supported Lucas and Bresnan’s two most recent short films.

  • Michael Bloom
    Past Sundance docs:

    DARK MONEY (2018)

    Bloom is the CEO of First Look Media, whose subsidiaries include Field of Vision and Topic Studios. He also served as executive producer of 2018 Sundance fiction title LEAVE NO TRACE.

  • Topic Studios’ Lisa Leingang and Ryan Heller

    Leingang is SVP, programming and content, while Heller is VP, film and acquisitions at Topic Studios. This marks their first Sundance credits.

  • Topic Studios’ Jihan Robinson
    Past Sundance docs:


    Robinson is VP, nonfiction programming at Topic Studios.

Why You Should Watch:
Lucas and Bresnan’s cultivation of trust and access over several years provides them with a privileged position to craft a singular observational portrait of a year in the life of the primarily African-American and Latino/a high school and their young subjects.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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