News / Arts & Entertainment

Survival at Stake For Girl, Dad in 'Beasts of The Southern Wild'

Quvenzhane Wallis as
Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" and Dwight Henry as "Wink" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Mary Cybulski)
Alan Silverman
HOLLYWOOD – Beasts of the Southern Wild, the small film from a new director, won the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Festival and then the prestigious Camera D'Or at Cannes. It's a tale of survival in a rural community of the Louisiana bayou. The emotional drama has critics standing up and cheering.


"The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts - even the smallest piece - the entire universe will get busted,"  tiny six-year-old philosopher Hushpuppy tells her father in the movie. Hushpuppy and her father, a hard-drinking scavenger named Wink, live in a ramshackle bayou settlement they call "The Bathtub". The settlement is about to be washed away by a powerful hurricane.



Director and co-writer Benh Zeitlin says although the location is fictional,  the drama is real.

"It certainly is inspired by a lot of things that have happened," he explains. "Storms have always come, and I wanted to tell a story about living in a place that, every summer, the possibility of getting wiped off the map exists …and what it is like to stand strong there, refuse to leave and fight for it."

No one in the cast had ever acted, including New Orleans baker Dwight Henry who co-stars as Wink and understands the father's "tough love" parenting.

"You have to understand the region they live in on the Gulf Coast. We often have to go through dangerous situations, whether you are a child or an adult or senior citizen, you have to endure the possibility of losing your home, losing your loved ones, being displaced and things like that," Henry notes. "So I was constantly trying to emphasize that she needs to learn these things very fast."

Quvenzhane Wallis, 8, stars as Hushpuppy.

"It was fun because I really wasn't expecting all of this commotion and dirtiness and stuff like that, because I'm not that kind of person. I'm just relaxed …and clean. They actually had me jumping in mud!" she says.

Director Ben Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)Director Ben Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
x
Director Ben Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
Director Ben Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Jess Pinkham)
Director Zeitlin explains that Hushpuppy survives the harsh environment with the help of fantasies about aurochs, prehistoric beasts that give the story its title.

"I tried to think back to the way that I experienced the world when I was six," he explains. "I wanted to make a film that didn't condescend toward that and say 'oh, it's just a kid seeing things.' I actually took it kind of seriously and respected that point of view because to me she is the wise woman of the film and is the one who has both the strength and the sweetness to preserve this culture inside of herself."

Beasts of the Southern Wild was filmed on location along the Gulf coast of Louisiana.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”