Tag Archives: beasts

Critically Acclaimed “Beasts” Nominated for Four Academy Awards


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:

Zeitlin ’04 and Janvey ’06 Discuss Critically Acclaimed “Beasts” in Goldsmith

“This is sort of old man talk right now. I mean, I just turned 30…”

While the rest of my friends live-texted me as they sat in on “Diversity University: In Theory and In Practice” this past Monday night, I had the pleasure of strolling over to the CFS to listen to Benh Zeitlin ’04 and Dan Janvey ’06 discuss their critically acclaimed film Beasts of the Southern Wild.

For those of you who have been living in a cultural bubble for the past year, Wesleyan alum Zeitlin co-wrote and then directed Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film about a young girl named Hushpuppy who tries to cope with the environmental struggles of living in the Louisiana bayou and her own emotional turmoil as she deals with her terminally ill father. The film has captured the imagination of film critics and audiences everywhere, and it even caught the eye of Oprah Winfrey and our newly re-elected president Barack Obama. In addition to widespread acclaim from critics, Beasts took home the Caméra d’Or at Cannes, the Grand Jury Prize for Drama at Sundance, and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival, to name a few of the many accolades. Even more impressive, over 28 other Wesleyan graduates worked on the film, including Janvey, who served as one of Beasts‘ producers.

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. 

Even Barack Obama Thinks ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is the Shit

“I don’t like to name drop, but the first person to tell me about this was the President of the United States.”

As if the tremendous critical acclaim and Oscar buzz wasn’t enough, it turns out even Barack Obama thinks Beasts of the Southern Wild is pretty much the shit. The commander-in-chief liked it so much he recommended it to Oprah. As Oprah recalled during a recent OWN interview:

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.’