In a remote part of the Louisiana delta, cut off from civilization by a levee is a Bayou community known solely as ‘The Bathtub.’ A place where the only luxury is living, and where death is celebrated as joyously as birth. Making something out of nothing is the spirit of both this fictitious community, and the filmmakers who brought this story to life.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is the debut feature from New Orleans filmmaker Benh Zeitlin. A magical, emotional tale centering on a wise little girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) and the obstacles she faces existing inside a community in constant struggle to retain its independence. Raised by a strong-handed single father named Wink (Dwight Henry) in a two trailer compound on stilts, Hushpuppy is taught everything she knows in order to survive on her own in a world full of uncertainty. Presented with a string of catastrophes—from a Katrina-type storm surge to her father’s mysterious illness—Hushpuppy navigates between childhood fantasy with an innate connection to nature, and the reality of her surroundings in a place whose future is unclear.
Created on a minimal budget, Beasts of the Southern Wild delivers raw, exemplary performances from its cast—both father and daughter are first time actors, plucked from the state of Louisiana, itself—and cinematic beauty with a mixture of still and handheld shots. These feats have not gone unnoticed, as the film received the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature at Sundance, and the coveted Caméra d’Or for best first film at Cannes.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a film you take your mother to if you want her to end up in tears, and your girlfriend to if you want to see how long she can keep it together. A test that unsurprisingly you’ll be challenged with as well.
Opening in select theaters this Wednesday, July 27th.