Beasts of the Southern Wild, the masterpiece by Benh Zeitlin ’04, just scored four Academy Award nominations this morning, including Best Picture, Best Director (Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar), and Best Actress (Quevenzhané Wallis).
Wallis, just five years old during filming and now age nine, is the youngest person ever to receive an Oscar nod for Best Actress; the old “record” was held by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was nominated for Whale Rider in 2004 at the age of thirteen. Following her Beasts success, Wallis has been cast in the film Twelve Years A Slave, which also stars Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Paul Giamatti.
In addition to his Oscar nods, director and writer Zeitlin has won a slew of prestigious film prizes at several film festivals, including Sundance and Cannes. The film has received universal acclaim, even catching the eyes of President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, who proclaimed Beasts was one of the best films of the year. Zeitlin and one of the film’s producers, Dan Janvey ’06, also made the trek to Wesleyan this past semester to discuss the film, which was screened during the Wesleyan Film Series.
All I can say is, cue the brag-heavy Facebook statuses and tweets:
At the event on Monday, after some slightly awkward (and slightly awesome) banter between Film Studies’ Jeanine Basinger and the two filmmakers about which famous Wesleyan alum had sex in the Davison Art Center, Zeitlin and Janvey held the “world premiere” of the official behind-the-scenes footage from Beasts, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Read after the jump to hear about some of the crazy sick nasty stuff that happened on the set of Beasts, as well as what Zeitlin and Janvey had to say about their Wesleyan experiences and beyond.
I don’t like to name drop, but the first person to tell me about this was the President of the United States. I was interviewing the president for an interview that’s going to be in O magazine . . . and as I sat down putting on my mic, he said ‘have you seen this movie, Beasts of the Southern Wild?’ I hadn’t even heard the phrase so I didn’t even know what he was talking about. And since then at least a dozen different people said to me, ‘have you seen this movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, you have got to see this film.’