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Outta the Muck 2021


Distributed by Collective Eye Films, 1315 SE 20th Ave. #3, Portland OR 97214; 971-236-2056
Produced by Bhawin Suchak, Ira Mckinley, Tracy Rector, and Darian Henry
Directed by Bhawin Suchak and Ira Mckinley
Streaming, 80 mins

College - General Adult
African Americans; Family Relations; Football

Date Entered: 01/05/2023

Reviewed by Erica Swenson Danowitz, Chat Reference Librarian –Pennsylvania’s Chat with a Librarian (CWAL), Independent Contractor at Hosting Solutions & Library Consulting (HSLC); Retired Professor/Reference Librarian, Delaware County Community College

Although a small community with 6,000 inhabitants, the town of Pahokee, Florida located in the Everglades on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, has been the subject of films/documentaries in the past including a short featured on ESPN. One learns early in viewing Outta the Muck that Pahokee has an interesting history that includes notoriously devastating hurricanes, arduous migrant farm worker experiences, and a successful high school football program that has sent many alumni onto college and NFL teams. The parents of one of this film’s producers, Ira Mckinley, left Pahokee in the 1960s with hopes of finding a better life in New York State. Mckinley always felt drawn to the community and returned to “live the Pahokee life.” His documentary focuses on his relatives, family members who have lived in the area for generations. This film examines their history/contributions to Pahokee including both playing and coaching football at the local high school.

Filmed in 2016, the documentary illustrates the important role football plays in the community. Mckinley features his nephew Alvin who helped coach the Pahokee high school football team to that year’s state championship. The film has scenes of various games and includes the annual “Muck Bowl” played against Pahokee’s football rival, Glades Central High. These moments capture the sense of pride and camaraderie held by the Pahokee community during these athletic events.

A central character in this film is Mckinley’s niece Bridget, a mother of four sons who has endeavored to obtain a nursing degree for decades. She provides familial anecdotes and expresses her deep pride for the Pahokee community that offers love, loyalty, and support to its members. This depiction contrasts greatly from local news stories that, as one resident remarks, only focus on the high crime rates in the area. Bridget highlights the importance of Lake Okeechobee in providing both sustenance and a place of refuge to Pahokee’s inhabitants. She states, “What we have here – I think it’s just beautiful.”

Pahokee is the Seminole word for “grassy waters.” This documentary pays homage to the Pahokee region’s nickname, “Muck” which honors the dark, fertile soil that surrounds the grassy waters of Lake Okeechobee. The film also presents other customs that have existed for generations including fishing and rabbit hunting in the sugar cane fields. The camerawork often provides picturesque views of Floridian landscapes with flying cranes, swaying palm trees, swimming alligators, and magnificent lake panoramas. This film is available in a variety of formats that can include public performance rights. Outta the Muck is recommended for college and high school levels as well as the general public.

Official Selection: Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2022, Seattle International Film Festival 2022, Riverrun International Film Festival 2022, Miami International Film Festival 2022, Atlanta Film Festival 2022

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.