Beasts of the Southern Wild
I have been sitting on this review since about February, when I saw a screening of “Beasts Of the Southern Wild” on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. I know it’s early but I am predicting that it will be my favorite film of the year. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is an independent film released by Fox Search Light Pictures, the indie division of the Fox movie studio behemoth.
The test screening was set up for African American film reviewers, producers and people like me who just love film. At the time, Fox was trying to figure out how to market the film. “Beasts” wowed the film community when it was shown at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Directed by Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts” is a mythical story of the effects of a devastating Hurricane and flooding of a small Louisiana Bayou community known as the “Bathtub”. The story is told from the point of view of six year old “Hushpuppy“ played by first time actress th Quvenzhané Wallis.
“Hushpuppy” lives with her dad “Wink” (Dwight Henry a first time actor-whose day job is as a baker in New Orleans), who comes down with an illness which forces “Hushpuppy” to grow up fast. “Wink” is a tough love kind of dad who believes he must man up his daughter to learn how to survive when he eventually passes. Director Zeitlin takes some artistic license in the film , which may throw off some viewers, but over all it is an amazingly beautiful and touching film.
The bond between father and daughter is like none I have ever seen before on big or small screen. There are funny moments in the film which reminds you of a “Mad Max” community on water. Don’t expect the big studio production with the paint by numbers narrative. “Beasts” has a multicultural cast with the focus on the relationship between a Black father and his daughter. Studio execs at the screening loved the film but could not figure out how to market or release it, because it had no big name actors.
Right now “Beasts of the Southern Wild“is only playing in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles. It was released this past week taking in an amazing 42,000 dollars per screening in just four theaters. With numbers like that I am sure they will release it in more major cities with large Black populations. There is even talk of little Miss Quvenzhané Wallis being nominated for an Oscar. This is a must see!