Beasts of the Southern Wild
Autumn 2012 Features series
October 14, 2012 at 7:00pm
October 14, 2012 at 4:00pm
Directed by Benh Zeitlin
Screenplay by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Starring Dwight Henry, Quvenzhané Wallis and Levy Easterly
Rated PG ·
Beasts of the Southern Wild
At home in The Bathtub, a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the coast of Southern Louisiana by a sprawling levee, an unapologetically uncivilized band of humans live alongside the animals that sustain them, blissfully disconnected from their resourceburning neighbours to the north. Among them, six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) already fends well for herself, sharing a trailer with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), who has not been the same since Hushpuppy’s mother left them years earlier. Wink can be cruel at times, though his tough love is intended to prepare Hushpuppy for when he is no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack – temperatures rise and water levels surge, creating an ominous and terrifying climate. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, Hushpuppy must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Best Cinematography award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival,Beasts of the Southern Wild is the stunning debut from first-time filmmaker Benh Zeitlin. Adapted and co-written by playwright Lucy Alibar from her stageplay Juicy and Delicious, the film alludes to a number of artistic masterpieces, paying homage to great works of literature, painting and cinema.
Arguably the soul of the film, newcomer Wallis delivers a passionate and intense performance as the defiant and imaginative young heroine. Existing entirely in its own universe, Beasts of the Southern Wildis equal parts mythological, anthropological, folkloric and apocalyptic. An emotionally wrenching and heartfelt portrayal of the bond between a father and his daughter, it is not to be missed.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild provokes wonderment pure and simple. How did it ever get made? Did the people who financed and created it know how magical and piercingly beautiful it would be? They couldn’t have known at the outset. Benh Zeitlin’s debut feature evokes life in a surpassingly strange corner of Louisiana through the ecstatic spirit of a 6-year-old black girl named Hushpuppy. There’s no trace of calculation, only artistic ambitions and hopes that have come to fruition in the year’s finest film thus far… Language is key to the enchantment of the film as a whole. Not just the words but the stylized cinematic language of Ben Richardson’s images. This is a low-budget production that looks like a million dollars greatly multiplied… Fireworks flash and sparkle. Hands thrust into a stream come up with thrashing catfish. In a floating crab shack and whorehouse called Elysian Fields, dancers drift through a humid haze to the strains of Fats Waller’s “Until the Real Thing Comes Along”. And when the hurricane comes along, it’s the visual equivalent of what Noah, in The Green Pastures, calls ‘a complete storm,’ a deluge that tests the community’s attachment to its precarious place and endangered way of life.” (Joe Morgenstern,The Wall Street Journal)
“Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)