Official | Update : 13.02.18 . 1:04 PM

Benh Zeitlin: "A fantasy journey into an alternative reality"

Cast film © FIF/LF

Cast film © FIF/LF

Benh Zeitlin has been selected at the Festival de Cannes for Un Certain Regard for his first feature film. Beasts of the southern wild, an award-winner at Sundance, is a headlong journey into a dreamlike and peculiar world.

Benh Zeitlin makes films in order to recreate the world he would like to have lived in. "When I finally realised that the world is ruled by money, I wanted to create my own world. And films can really help you do that". Poetic and mystical, the young American director has created a world in which the element of water rules supreme. Egg, his first short film, portrayed a pirate ship afloat on an egg white. Meanwhile, Glory at the sea tells the story, the director explains, of an entire village that built its own raft in order to escape a Louisiana shattered by Hurricane Katrina.

"At school they said to us 'Never film with animals or underwater'. The two things I love most in life. So there was clearly no question of not using these elements," says the American. It is against a backdrop similar to that of Glory at the sea that the story of  Beasts of the southern wild unfurls. While temperatures rise and the ice melts, prehistoric creatures begin to emerge. We then follow the story of Hushpuppy, a young girl who sets out in search of her mother in this land dominated by climate change. A film the American director himself describes as "A fantasy journey into an alternative reality"



Beasts of the southern wild
screens in the salle Debussy on Friday 18 May 2012 at 11 am and 4.45 pm.




Questionnaire Un Certain Regard :

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the southern wild


1- What does Un Certain Regard mean to you?
The film was made in such a small, strange, deviant little bubble, that it was never clear to me if anyone outside that bubble would understand what we were trying to say.  To be recognized internationally like this has exploded that bubble and it's a tremendous privilege to be able to share the film across the ocean and across infinite cultures.

2- Why is cinema essential to you?
The process of making movie is hard to separate from my life at this point.  The way I want each day to go, with my friends, on the water, in bars, in danger, on the frontiers;  these days are created an enabled by making movies, and the stories we tell are reflections of this life.  There's no way to pull them apart anymore.

3- Which type of cinema or which film continues to inspire you?
If I could transport myself through time I would try and land in the back seat of the horse carriage that Marko and Crni are firing guns out of at the beginning of Underground.  The life that fills seems of Kusturica's work is what inspired me to become a filmmaker and continues to push me to slam the accelerator towards the abyss.

4- What question would you like to ask to any film director?
I'd love to drink some whiskey in heaven (or maybe it's hell) with John Cassavetes and Bob Fosse and talk about Love Streams and All that Jazz and what it's like to direct while you're on your way out, see if they felt like they got it right in their last moments.

5- What are you expecting from the Festival de Cannes ?
I'm hoping to see filmmakers who are idols of mine be celebrated on a massive scale and feel like I'm sneaking through some kind of temple of cinema.  I'm hoping it'll be like being a rookie getting to visit the hall of fame.

A few words on your first day at Cannes?
It's like in the Neverending Story where all the exotic creatures of Fantasia show up to meet the child-like empress at the Ivory Tower.  Except the Ivory Tower is a movie theater and the child-like empress is Wes Anderson (or maybe it's Bill Murray).  It's a fairly-tale.

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