Unchained at Sundance 2012: BEAST IT!

I’m still gushing over the fantastical film “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, which I was able to see at the festival volunteer-only screening on Wednesday.

Here’s the official Sundance synopsis:

“Hushpuppy, an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink, in “the Bathtub,” a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack—temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.”

I was thrilled this was my first film of the festival because I’d been hooked since seeing the above photo still and reading the synopsis. I’m no film reviewer, so I’ll briefly share my thoughts on the film. I could only describe it as a gem of a Hurricane Katrina-esque fairytale with the most compelling young female lead I have seen since probably EVE’S BAYOU or THE FALL.

Sundance screenings (as almost every other part of the festival) are seeming to be full of surprises. Turns out that our screening was the first time the director, Benh Zeitlin had even seen the final product. How crazy is that?! At the end of the event, folks were outside handing out commemorative beanies and postcards. Swag! Also while the other volunteers and I were in line waiting to enter the theater, we were suddenly invited to take photos with Kenneth Cole, designer of our traffic cone orange uniform jackets. TIP: Always make sure you’re at the correct screening before you get in the theater. I almost saw the wrong film, which would have definitely ruined my night.

It made my day on Thursday and Friday to hear folks via Twitter and in person raving about BEASTS. Of course it’s not a film for everyone but I honestly left the theater inspired as a storyteller. Zeitlan shared that the film crew was incredibly small and had a very short shooting schedule on location in the deep swampland of Louisiana. The film was also a Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab participant in 2009. I applaud the director for casting all unknown White and Black actors, especially the rising star Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy. She, most of all, carries the film and conveys a strength in her demeanor of a six year old going on sixty.

Official Screening Highlights via Sundance.org

Now the most important question: which distributor will be #unchained enough to bring the unique story to the public? I’ll keep you posted here.

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9 thoughts on “Unchained at Sundance 2012: BEAST IT!

  1. revjonflores says:

    I’m so happy that you’re at Sundance! Say hi to Robert for me. 🙂 And you KNOW I love swag!!!!! Come to LA soon, ok?

  2. Sean Temple says:

    I’m really dying to see this. It’s amazing to hear this has turned into the hit of Sundance. Makes me feel better about the terrible shorts from Sundance that were on Yahoo.

  3. […] was actually the first screening I attended while volunteering at the festival earlier this year (read review here). It was nice to relieve the vibrant memories. I was ecstatic when it was picked up by Fox […]

  4. […] BEASTS, following in the footsteps of PARIAH, is also eligible for an Audience Award nomination. The first round of voting opens today and allows you to pick five films. The final top five will be announced on November 5th for a second round of voting. The winner will be announced live at the awards show on November 26th. Click HERE to vote for BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD for the Gotham Audience Award. […]

  5. […] season is kicking off full swing! Show love to the favorite festival films of 2012 (like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD) nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Audience Award by voting online HERE. Select your top […]

  6. […] close to heart that I want to share today as well. One of the poignant films I have seen so far, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD has made it to the final 5 round in the Gotham Independent Film Audience […]

  7. […] got more epic. It’s not secret how much I love this film since seeing it in Park City back earlier this year. Now the multiple award-winning (Sundance, Cannes & Gothams) story of a little Black girl named […]

  8. […] how much I love  ”Beasts of the Southern Wild” since seeing it in Park City back earlier this year. Now the multiple award-winning story of a little Black girl named Hushpuppy living in a magical […]


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