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The Beasts of the Southern Wild

This screening took place on
Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 8:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

Review from the Globe and Mail’s Liam Lacey:

“Shot in Louisiana, with non-professional actors and apparently set-designed from a junkyard, Beasts of the Southern Wild marks one of the most auspicious American directorial debuts in years.

Director Benh Zeitlin’s film, which has echoes of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, is at once folksy and apocalyptic, as it follows a six-year-old heroine in a delta shack, facing the possible end of the world. The winner of major awards at Cannes and Sundance, Beasts (loosely based on a play by co-writer Lucy Alibar) is less a drama than a fable. The title, previously used for a Doris Betts short story, derives from William Blake’s 1789 poem, The Little Black Boy, appropriately from his Songs of Innocence poem cycle.

The narrator is a precocious African-American girl named Hushpuppy (the marvellous Quvenzhané Wallis), with a stick-figure body and an expressive face beneath a puff of gold-tinted hair. She lives in a couple of tied-together trailers with her terminally ill, alcoholic father Wink (Dwight Henry) on an island named Bathtub, downstream from a levee protecting an industrial park.

The multiracial inhabitants of Bathtub live in communal, if not always harmonious, squalor. Wink sometimes strikes his daughter, though verbally, at least, she gives as good as she gets (“…when you die I’ll go to your grave and eat a birthday cake by myself”). For all his parenting lapses, Wink is struggling to raise his child with enough grit and survival skills to manage without him.

...As an allegory of marginal people’s resilience, Beasts of the Southern Wild uncompromisingly celebrates the strange. As a piece of filmmaking, it remains so satisfyingly bizarre, it makes its detractors seem imaginatively stunted while leaving even its admirers guessing.”


Winner of FIPRESCI Prize & the Golden Camera at Cannes 2012
Winner of Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2012

  • Directed by Behn Zeitlin
  • 2012, USA
  • 93 minutes

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