The Keys to Paradise is a feature-length documentary about the communities in the upper Florida Keys. The people's love, passion, and common day struggles.
Executive Producer, Director
How To Watch
Private, online screening only by reservation*
Northerners daydream about them. Musicians write songs about them. But how well do you really know the Florida Keys? It turns out that one of America’s most famous communities is also one of its most profoundly misunderstood.
Millions of tourists each year visit the Keys to enjoy their natural splendor and relaxed vibe. But for the islands’ year-long residents, life can be full of challenges that might surprise the rest of us. The Keys are not a single entity: they are a string of nearly 900 charted islands, 30 of which are inhabited. Most of the inhabited Keys are joined by a single road, the Overseas Highway, but each has developed its own unique character and a strong sense of community.
Disaster is a constant threat in the Keys, and its residents know that they may find themselves completely isolated with little warning, without power, and left to rely on their community spirit to see them through the devastation left by hurricanes and other tropical storms. Even tourism is a double-edged sword, bringing trash and economic volatility along with support for local economies. When tourism season ends, prices for even the basic necessities skyrocket.
Unscripted Drama Series
Compass Pictures Inc., MESAVERSE Media, and DK21 Ventures LLC.
Travel, Lifestyle, Environmental
Year-long residents of the Keys are used to banding together in times of crisis, a fact that struck filmmaker Roman Jaquez when he discussed their unique character with his business partner and Keys resident Dush Pathmanandam.
The COVID-19 pandemic struck the Florida Keys just as hard as most other communities in the US—tourism, the mainstay of the islands’ economy, was devastated—but Jaquez learned that permanent residents of the Keys took the crisis remarkably in stride. So he set out to discover how.
The result is a remarkable feature-length documentary, The Keys to Paradise. In it, Jaquez explores the unique ways in which the small communities making up the Keys overcome daily struggles, the vicissitudes of the tourism industry, and natural disasters ranging from hurricanes and pandemics to the slower but even more menacing threat of climate change. Contrary to their public image, the Florida Keys are home to a combination of individual determination and community spirit that the rest of us sometimes fear has been left in America’s past.
The film is currently available for screening and distribution. Compass Pictures representatives will promote it at Cannes during this year’s MIPCOM, AFM, EFM, NATPE, and Berlinale events.
The documentary encouraged Compass Pictures to pursue an even more ambitious vision for its companion television series. UNITED TRIBES follows a rich cast of Keys residents, from retirees living on their own private island to single mothers living paycheck to paycheck. Over the course of six gripping episodes, the first season explores the meaning of community in one of the US’s most distinctive regions. Future seasons will take viewers deep into other communities, including those in the French Alps and along the Red Sea.
The first season of UNITED TRIBES recently finished shooting and will be available for distribution in 2022.