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.
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.