News / Arts & Entertainment

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

Quvenzhane Wallis as "Hushpuppy" and Dwight Henry as "Wink" on the set of Beasts of The Southern Wild (Photo: Fox Searchlight / Mary Cybulski)
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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."