Set in the Louisiana basin and with a 6-year-old narrator named Hushpuppy, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is already getting Oscar buzz. The first full-length film by Director Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts” took home the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and four awards at Cannes. The movie was filmed in and around New Orleans, where Zeitlin moved after Hurricane Katrina, but its time frame is ambiguous.
Hushpuppy, played by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis, lives with her father in a community called “the Bathtub.” It’s supposedly located at the edge of the world and Hushpuppy wonders what her legacy will be once she and the community are gone. A storm is coming, the waters rising, and the beasts will be in the form of creatures based on local lore.
Being compared to Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” but with a story in which the setting, absent father and pending storm call to mind National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones,” Beasts is a must-see for any Southerner. The New York Times compared Huspuppy’s character to that of Huck Finn and “To Kill A Mockingbird”‘s Scout and wrote in its June 26 review: “This movie is a blast of sheer, improbable joy, a boisterous, thrilling action movie with a protagonist who can hold her own alongside Katniss Everdeen, Princess Merida and the other brave young heroines of 2012.”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” opened in New York and Los Angeles June 27 and opens around the country this month. In the South, “Beasts” starts showing in New Orleans tomorrow and Dallas on Thursday and travels to Atlanta and Austin July 13. See the full schedule of opening dates here. If you’re in Atlanta, you can see the film July 7 at the High Museum of Art in a free screening.
If you want to bring “Beasts” to your city or organize a group trip to the theater, the movie site’s “Be A Beast” section has a signup form. You can also follow the film on Twitter @BeastsTheMovie and like it on Facebook.
Update: We just got the “Beasts” newsletter with an announcement that the movie will be showing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 20.