Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by feature film newcomer Benh Zeitlin and written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar, took the recent Sundance Film Festival by storm, winning both the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic, and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for U.S. Dramatic. Hailed as “stunning,” “magnificent,” “magical,” and “unforgettable,” Beasts of the Southern Wild is both a magical tale and a hero’s journey.
Set is a part of the Louisiana Delta swampland known as “the Bathtub,” Beasts stars newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis as six-year-old Hushpuppy, a courageous girl who lives with her hard-drinking father, Wink (Dwight Henry). In a film that does a marvelous job of portraying the bond between father and daughter, Wink’s tough love prepares Hushpuppy for a time when the universe itself seems to unravel.
When Wink contracts a mysterious terminal illness, the world seems to start to spin out of control. Temperatures rise and the ice caps melt – unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs (which some critics have likened to “prehistoric giant warthogs”) that are ready to terrorize the populace. With the waters rising and Wink’s health failing, young Hushpuppy sets out alone on a search for her lost mother.
Beautifully shot on Super 16-millimeter film, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a truly unique film that defies stereotypes, managing to be at once mythological, anthropological and apocalyptic.