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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."