‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Director Benh Zeitlin: Oscar Nomination Is the ‘Mardi Gras Of A Lifetime’


Arthouse film Beasts of the Southern Wild received four Academy Award nominations this morning: Best picture, best director (Benh Zeitlin), best actress (Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest ever to be nominated), and best adapted screenplay.

This writer recently watched the very unusual movie which was shot on a shoestring budget with 16mm film and handheld cameras in the New Orleans area. The independent film, which is part fantasy, takes place in a fictional isolated and off-the-grid bayou community of eccentric residents called “Bathtub” which is pounded by a massive storm. The main character is “Hushpuppy,” played by Wallis. The film made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival and won prizes there, at Cannes, and at other film festivals.

Entertainment Weekly checked in with director Benh Zeitlin (Benjamin Harold Zeitlin) about the four nominations for his first feature Beasts of the SouthernWild.

Zeitlin said that he expected Wallis to get some Oscar consideration but the rest was a surprise:

“It’s funny because I knew I was going to be nervous and my heart was going to be racing during the Best Actress announcement. But for director I honestly didn’t think there was any possibility that that was going to happen. And I thought they’d finished announcing the names so I wasn’t even nervous. I remember when they said [Michael] Haneke’s name I just sort of tuned out and then I just heard my name out of the back of my head and then I went into a black-out.”

“There’s a lot of exclamation points on my phone right now. I don’t even know where to begin. I got a lot of texts predicting that this will be the Mardi Gras of a lifetime.”

Have you seen Beasts of the Southern Wild and if so, what did you think of it?