Tag Archives: Sundance Film Festival

Ripple Effect: Liz Garcia ’99 on Her Film Debut and Wesleyan’s Impact

That’s writer/director Liz Garcia ’99 on the left in the red,
 Lifeguard star(clockwise) Martin Starr, Josh Harto, and Kristen Bell.


Unfortunately, at both Wesleyan and the world of Hollywood in general, we don’t hear as much about non-male directors, leading the way in making movies for the big screen. There’s a bit of a gender gap, at least in what the media focuses on. But they’re hard at work, writing their own films and pushing them through competitions and studios. Case in point: Liz Garcia ’99, who wrote for Dawson’s Creek, wrote and co-produced Cold Caseand created and produced Memphis Beat.

Today marks the big-screen release of her debut film, The Lifeguard, which Garcia wrote and directed, starring Kristen Bell and Martin Starr. It appeared in the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and now you can see it in theaters across the country. I talked to Garcia about The Lifeguard, her career in TV and now film, and the impact Wesleyan had on her life. She also had some advice for the Class of 2017, all of which you can read after the jump.

Zeitlin ’04 Takes Top Honors at Sundance Festival

“When I was in college, someone at some point told me, ‘If you’re gonna make movies, don’t shoot on the water, don’t shoot with children, and don’t shoot with animals.’ And our movie is really about children and animals on boats.”

This isn’t a film series showing post, but by goodness, in a year or so it could be. The Wesleyan Mafia left its mark on the film world again this past weekend in the form of Beasts of the Southern Wild, a SFFS/KRF grant-winning movie by up-and-coming filmmaker and Wesleyan Film Studies alumnus Benh Zeitlin ’04. The film, described as “a dreamy exploration of survival on the flooded Mississippi Delta,” not only took the grand jury prize in the U.S. dramatic competition at Sundance this weekend (Zeitlin accepted the award while holding up the film’s star, eight-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis). It also signed with Fox Searchlight for $2 million. GO, WESLEYAN MAFIA, GO, eh? (Speaking of which, the film’s three producers includes Wes alum Michael Gottwald ’06, who was assistant director for Zeitlin’s thesis film, Egg, and completed his own feature  Frame of Reference in 2006.)

I haven’t seen the film, of course (I certainly hope to soon, preferably in the mighty Goldsmith itself), but from what I’ve read, it’s a rather surreal exploration of a girl named Hushpuppy living with her father “at the edge of the world”—the impoverished, flooded Louisiana delta.