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Benh Zeitlin's Striking Feature Debut "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" Gets A Trailer!

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by Tambay A. Obenson
May 2, 2012 1:21 PM
43 Comments
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No lengthy intro necessary at this point... one of the best films I saw at the Sundance Film Festival this year - Benh Zeitlin's feature film debut starring Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry

Read my review of it HERE if you missed it.

Fox Searchlight will release it for a limited bow on June 29, 2012, so many of you folks will get to see it a lot sooner than I expected - and over the summer too!

Before then, however, it'll screen at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, and then Los Angeles Film Festival in June.

Watch its very first trailer (and guess who is quoted in it? I'll give you one guess :)):

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43 Comments

  • From Tokyo | May 10, 2012 5:19 PMReply

    Looks like a touching movie and I want to see it based on that. As someone else stated, both races are depicted as being in poverty, and based on the story as it is presented in the trailer, the roles of the father and daughter could have easily been played by Caucasians. I hope it comes out here.

  • Muse | May 6, 2012 3:45 PMReply

    Wow, I'm glad I watched the trailer and commented BEFORE reading all the other responses. I find Marie's in-depth response interesting. She makes it sound like a fantasy version of Precious, with a much tinier protagonist. That certainly does sound side-eye inducing, but I'll check it out and see for myself.

  • the black police | May 6, 2012 5:18 PM

    The best way to pull at the heartstring of any black person is to mention exploitation and oppression. That really gets us going. I'm glad you're checking it out for yourself though. If you do anytime soon please come back and give us your take.

  • Muse | May 6, 2012 3:33 PMReply

    I watched the entire trailer and still could not tell if that cute kid was male or female. I also couldn't tell what the film was about lol. Looks intriguing though. What the heck, I'll check it out.

  • Muse | May 8, 2012 1:10 PM

    That's exactly what I had in mind, Black Police. Also, there were certain points where she was wearing what looked like a nightgown or long loose shirt, but I've seen really young boys wear those kinds of pajamas too, so....hmmm, such deliberate gender-bending of a child? I'm not comfortable with that, but as I said, I'll check out the film and see how it all comes together in context. It's going to be playing soon at a film festival here in Brooklyn.

  • the black police | May 6, 2012 5:16 PM

    You must have missed the part where she refered to herself as a "she". But heck she did say "I'm the man" right after...

  • CareyCarey | May 4, 2012 8:17 AMReply

    What a tangled web we weave! As Marie predicted, her comment has become the central focus of snark attacks and a portal for others to move their own personal agendas. Listen, when I re-read her comment several times, I found her 2 basic issues of concern 1.) HER WORDS: "i expect people to follow suit of the white critics who assert/demand/convince of the movie's groundbreaking status" 2.) I believe Maria was simply saying -- one should beware of jumping on the bandwagon of championing a non-black filmmakers because their journey/obstacles/criticism/assessment/opportunities/vision/agenda/praise is quite different from ours - in so many ways. A) White people are more prone to ingratiate films of this nature when told from the viewpoint of white filmmakers. B) When films from the Benh Zeitlin's of the world (i.e., Kathryn Stockett, Quentin Tarantino, George Lucas,etc) are exalted to a position of superiority, it leaves less room for stories from POC [ i.e., toni morrison and octavia butler and our true masters] C.) Some black folks will unconciously follow suit. They will raise their tried and tired and lazy trump cards. In layman's terms -- here they come-a-runnin' : 1. "If we as artists can't be objective in the face of beauty, are we artists at all? Or contrarian posers with agendas and gripes that distort the earnest work of others to suit our prejudices and perhaps... envy? 2. "Black folks do it too - Don't forget "Our People" have done a good job of making horrible lasting images all by their damn selves" 3. "I really don't get people who feel like black people cannot be touched when it comes to storytelling and movies. I wonder how many black films will have been made with no contribution from a non-black". 4. "left me in tears!" In short -- in fairness to Maria -- Again, I believe she was simply saying "BEWARE" -- because there's much more than meets the eye and tug at your heart, much of which has little or nothing to do with art. Lastly, to be fair, Marie wasn't the only one who had serious concerns with the underlying/hidden messages: "White director. White writer. White producers. White cinematography, on down the line. I'm clear now. White people at white festivals saying it's the greatest thing since everything. Yes. It is starting [ The other voice] and it needs to be started" ~ Bama

  • the black police | May 4, 2012 6:59 PM

    Ah no no, no mouse trap here. Was just curious.

    I have no problem with people have a different opinion - that is a fact of life. Im just the type that wants to know where those opinions are coming from. The root of it all.

  • CareyCarey | May 4, 2012 5:26 PM

    @ The Black Police *below*, although I view your question as a mouse trap :-), I'll bite. My stance on this movie is exactly like my stance on all movies? Look, wayching movies is probably one of my biggest passions. I watch over 60 movies a month. In doing so I do not mix "politics" with my entertainment. If a movie/film appears to be propaganda in any form, hopefully I will discern such, and then process the information accordingly. If I miss a subtle message or an overt one, I do not believe my world or your world will come tumbling down. In other words - I don't sweat the small stuff. Listen, this is what I know and believe in -- People make films about themselves, and more importantly FOR THEMSELVES! What kind of person would I be if I played "arm-chair" psychologist in an effort to explain the motives, intentions and racial mindset of any filmmaker? Yeah, that WOULD be a fool's errand. And momma didn't raise no fools. Now Mr. Black Police, since I am not the best writer, I am going to borrow a few words from Traci which I believe expresses my exact sentiments --- "I've never understood how the term coonery ever applies to describing black humor for a predominantly BLACK audience. I think this concept of shame and humor has quite the complicated history in black entertainment on both the production and reception side of the equation. Many are ASHAMED of what we as black folk find funny because its so "VULGAR" and "LOW BROW." Eff that. I quite admire fanatical TP followers whose logic about why they like him steers far away from the intellectual pontification that "critical" film watchers give to describe and defend their film choices (i.e. present a case that shows that their tastes are less shame-inducing than the taste of others). It's called taste for a reason -- my flavor ain't always your flavor -- and I'm not about to sit up here and defend why I like salty and not sweet" ~ TRACI R. In short Black Police, if you're really trying to hear and understand my position/stance, I believe my next comment should satisfy you -- I think we all have opinions and ideas that we live by, and in most cases, even if those opinions are dead wrong - or we cannot support them with any concrete evidence - I think it's safe to say we will protect those concepts/ideas with all our heart and soul. It's just an enate human nature to desire the feeling of "right". Consequently, it's my belief that anything that runs contrary to that feeling, is not welcomed and surely not rewarded ~CareyCarey

  • The black police | May 4, 2012 2:26 PM

    So, CareyCarey, what is your stance on the movie?

  • CareyCarey | May 4, 2012 12:59 PM

    Yeah Ali, I've noticed that you generally deal with the facts. In fact, just yesterday you said: "Did I say Marie was wrong? No. How could I?". So yep, you coo. Now, the reason why I've stayed in this thread -- 1) On one hand we have those who proclaim "MOVIES ARE MUCH MUCH MORE THAN ENTERTAINMENT". Okay, that's true in so many ways. Yet, when someone points out what THEY received from viewing a film (like marie did), those same folks who enlightened us... who yelled "MOVIES ARE MUCH MUCH MORE THAN ENTERTAINMENT" -- are the same folks who drop the "what about beauty" -- "what about art" -- "art has no color" -- "can we all just get along" cards. Yeah, some might call them black folks hypocrites, fence straddlers or even worst -- blow in the wind type colored folks. They are -- for the most part -- reminiscent of a person who talks to you with one hand behind their back. When your opinion on a racial issue agrees with theirs, they are all cool, but when it does not, they drop their head, restructure their two faces and pull out their "beauty" and "art" trumps everything else card. You can't trust them as far as you can throw them, nor see them. So thanks Ali. I am overjoyed that you had the courage to say you understood.

  • Ali | May 4, 2012 9:38 AM

    Carey, I completely get everything you're saying. That's one of the reasons I haven't discussed this much because I really can't contribute one way or the other. Not now.

  • Tamara | May 3, 2012 9:14 PMReply

    I think the reference for the quoted person went over my head. Who is it? And also, this film looks great. One thing: it reminds me of "Salvage the Bones" by Jesmyn Howard...in a sense with the impending storm and familial relationships between father and daughter and town and community, etc. The trailer is as described, visually beautiful and poetic. I would love to see this film.

    "this movie being celebrated as the best of the year sits wrong with me and may sit wrong with you once you get past the manipulative points (which all movies have) and look at the core. you will see something that does not smell as sweet as they say. our depictions don't have to be rosey, but if you are showing an african-american child being abused, living in filth, being unparented by her african-american absentee father, you should have a point. and you should not be so careless as to wrap it up in the dressing of poetry and magic to make that it go down easy." - MARIE

    Respectfully, I'd like to ask MARIE if she has seen David Gordon Green's "George Washington" (2000) and if so, what did she think of it in comparison to this film that depicts children in a rural setting, impoverished, fending for themselves in terms of growth and maturity without a real presence of adults, but whose tale is told through their eyes and given a magical realism-type treatment. Likewise, what do you think of "Ballast" (2008) directed by yet another "white, privileged" director? And have you read the book "Salvage the Bones" (2011, book) whose narrative flows along the same lines as the above mentioned films?

    I would love a furthered discussion on these type works. I think what matters above all is the story, the tale and the truth and sincerity in depiction, be it by a white director or no. I think, also, that the race aspect is a totally different avenue to explore in terms of discourse, separate from the almost fairytale wonder of features like this. For example, look to "The Fall" (2006) directed by Tarsem Singh --- that tells a story not necessarily narrated through the mind/mouth of a child but is "translated" by the imagination of a Catinca Untaru who stars opposite Lee Pace. The girl actress is Romanian and portrays a Hispanic/Chicana daughter of immigrants. Tarsem is an American individual by way of Indian birth. What role does the race make play really as long as the tale gives the truth? or "a" truth? Every viewer will receive their own interpretation. Film/Fiction is subjective. And caricatures can be found in any work of fiction. "The War" (1994) can serve as example that caricature when the coined is filmed (poor whites/po' white trash/rednecks), too.

    Anyway, I find it fascinating the "world", if you will, of "magical realism"...and tales told through the viewpoints of children. There's an innocence and truth and prescience that abounds in the realm of children-led narratives. I'm asking a lot of question. Maybe this subject within the confines of this post have been beat to death and no one will respond. LOL. Oh well.

  • Tamara | May 4, 2012 2:14 PM

    @ THE BLACK POLICE, thanks for clarifying for me. I am apparently deaf and blind. I will have to re-watch the trailer to see. :-)

  • the black police | May 4, 2012 12:23 AM

    Tambay is referring to his quote (his view on the movie) being used as a critic quote in the trailer. Rewatch the video and you can see it at the 1:30 mark.

    I really don't get people who feel like black people cannot be touched when it comes to storytelling and movies. I wonder how many black films will have been made with no contribution from a non-black (oe more specifically white) person. Who knows? The lower number might be a good thing.

    Some cry for inclusion. When inclusion occurs, some cry that it not representative. Sound a coiple of characters in one movie be burdened with representing a whole RACE?

  • Lauren | May 3, 2012 11:36 PM

    Yes. If we as artists can't be objective in the face of beauty, are we artists at all? Or contrarian posers with agendas and gripes that distort the earnest work of others to suit our prejudices and perhaps... envy?

  • Emmanuel | May 3, 2012 8:50 PMReply

    Looks interesting. I'll see it.

  • saadiyah | May 3, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    I am so excited to finally see this trailer. It's very beautiful and powerful. I can't think of anything that will keep me seeing this movie!

    Hope this leads to more acting opportunities for little Miss. Wallis.

  • the black police | May 3, 2012 4:33 AMReply

    Oh lawd! The blacks have done it again. I really didn't forsee this movie being problematized but leave it to the enlightened people who frequent this site to show you that it can and will be done.

    Congratulations!

    Anyway, it looks interesting. I wanna see it.

  • the black police | May 3, 2012 4:47 AM

    Bold

  • marie | May 2, 2012 9:51 PMReply

    i saw it at sundance. i attended the first screening at eccles theater with great anticipation and departed with great anger. i hope people hear me out. i am not a hater. i don't know the people involved. i could care less about them as people. i don't even post on this site in a regular fashion. please hear me out. there is a divide between what white audiences and assimilated individuals will see and what is actually being shown to us in this movie. on the surface - heartstrings are being pulled. there is no doubt that to see one of our girls pulls our heartstrings as humans. however - the archetypes, caricatures and over-archingl portrayal of black humans, particularly the father and daughter, is depicted in such a careless way by the film's makers that it angered me. for me to think that this movie is being lifted up as a masterpiece in its depictions of black culture or is breaking some ground for POC in the worlds of magical realism and fantasy is an affront to toni morrison and octavia butler and our true masters. this movie is far from anything but a young man of privilege playing with archetypes and brown skin in dangerous ways. the things this girl is made to do, wear, say is dangerous. the way her black father is made by this young non-black film-maker to behave, live, interact is pitiful. i am not speaking from a place of hate but a place of love for my people. i do not believe the young director even understands what he's playing with when he toys with this imagery. i stayed for the question and answer. i even attended a talk he did at the festival separate from the screening to make certain that i hadn't misjudged his intentions solely based on the color of his skin. the problem is - he has no intention at all. it is difficult to explain but some who eventually see it will understand and some will not. this movie being celebrated as the best of the year sits wrong with me and may sit wrong with you once you get past the manipulative points (which all movies have) and look at the core. you will see something that does not smell as sweet as they say. our depictions don't have to be rosey, but if you are showing an african-american child being abused, living in filth, being unparented by her african-american absentee father, you should have a point. and you should not be so careless as to wrap it up in the dressing of poetry and magic to make that it go down easy. not when you are playing with the skin tone and language of my daughter and my ancestors. i believe that once our better cultural thinkers get their eyes on this, the masses who are being blinded by the "magic" will see more than meets the eye. until then - i expect people to follow suit of the white critics who assert/demand/convince of the movie's groundbreaking status. i hope alternative views of the movie will open people's eyes. i think people should see the movie . but understand what you are seeing. do not let yourself be manipulated into convincing others about the excellence of a movie that a) you have not seen, or b) you don't understand or c) made you cry. do you even know why you were crying? if you can't follow your own mind, open up to varying opinions. every body will have one. this is mine. let the snarky follow-ups to this post begin. that is what this place is all about it seems. i just had to speak my mind. thank you.

  • the black police | May 3, 2012 4:48 AM

    Well, Marie, you can't just make claims. You have to explain yourself. So I have questions for you and I hope you address them. The question will be in upper case not to separate them from your quotes not to depict me yelling.

    1. "however - the archetypes, caricatures and over-archingl portrayal of black humans, particularly the father and daughter, is depicted in such a careless way by the film's makers that it angered me." WHAT ARCHETYPES, CARICATURES AND PORTRAYALS ARE YOU REFERRING TO? LIST THEM FOR ME.

    2. "the things this girl is made to do, wear, say is dangerous." WHAT ARE THE DANGEROUS THINGS SHE DOES, WEARS AND SAYS?

    3. "the way her black father is made by this young non-black film-maker to behave, live, interact is pitiful." WHAT WAY ARE YOU REFERRING TO?

    4. "showing an african-american child being abused, living in filth, being unparented by her african-american absentee father" IN WHAT WAY WAS THE CHILD ABUSED?

    5. WOULD YOUR CRITIQUE OF THE MOVIE STILL STAND IF THE CREATOR OF THIS MOVIE WAS BLACK? OR IF THE FATHER AND DAUGHTER WERE WHITE?

  • CareyCarey | May 3, 2012 3:39 AM

    I'VE SEEN IT ALL! I've seen snarky comments that hide under the banner of "constructive feedback". I've seen plants. I've witnessed attacks against those who differ from the "popular" opinions. And, some visitors do have hidden agendas (that really aren't that hidden). And yes, I've seen comments that can give the appearance that the writer is trying to convince others that a particular movie is a must see. And yes, some movies have a manipulative tone and other are used as propaganda tools. So, I completely understand Marie's comments. Do I agree with all her points of contention? No, I do not, but that's not to say they don't have merit. For one, I don't for one minute believe ALL movies have "manipulative" points, especially if the word "manipulative" is being used as a negative connotation. Yet, I also understand her feelings/opinions concerning whites who get special praise and special passes from telling "our" stories, or any story using downtrodden and/or needy black folks. I mean, if the story, or if a story uses a black child merely to draw sympathy and favoritism from a select crowd, that is reason for concern. But I also see Ali's point. I can't count the times I've seen comments that reek of condescension when one person allegedly didn't get "it" or they allegedly didn't "understand" what every proud and critical thinking black person saw a mile away. Yeeeeah, riiiigght, the old pull-your-black-card beat down trick. Yep, I've seen it all. Now, are all the above indiscretions happening in this thread? Uuuuummm.... could be.

  • Ali | May 3, 2012 1:41 AM

    Why do some people keep implying everyone that isn't against the film is a f*cking plant? Do some of us not discuss other topics? Are we REALLY trying to squash certain reactions? How? First off, have a discussion. Don't accuse anyone of anything. Did I say Marie was wrong? No. How could I? I haven't seen the film. But I don't like how she's making it seem as if anyone that doesn't agree just doesn't "understand" what they REALLY saw. That's how it's coming off to me. Maybe I'm wrong. But I don't like that type of discussion with any film. It's funny how people that aren't using their real names are the ones accusing people of having hidden agendas.

  • Priss | May 3, 2012 1:02 AM

    I see the Fox Searchlight and Court 13 contingent is out in full force. Stop it, guys. Let the conversation go where it's going to go. Respect this woman, Marie's, opinion and others like it which will come. The more you try to squash these kind of reaction, the more you will feed frustration. Also the "but Black people do it" argument is just lazy and ignorant.

  • Lauren | May 2, 2012 11:41 PM

    @Marie-I too have not seen the film, but all the people; both black and white in the trailer appear to be mired in poverty. Still the imagery is stunning and the girl's performance even in the few minutes here is powerful. Don't forget "Our People" have done a good job of making horrible lasting images all by their damn selves; be it rap videos like Niki Minaj's latest with the tight vulva shot or Tyler Perry crap... or Nollywood.... ugh! Ask yourself if this film was made by a black director, would you have the same complaints? Precious was packed with relentless horror that would've set this site on fire if it was written and directed by a white person...same goes for Spike's Redhook Summer... life isn't fair and even less so for people of color but that doesn't change the fact that this looks like a beautiful piece of work... there is cinema art here; it's as simple as that.

  • Ali | May 2, 2012 10:07 PM

    "do not let yourself be manipulated into convincing others about the excellence of a movie that a) you have not seen, or b) you don't understand or c) made you cry. do you even know why you were crying? if you can't follow your own mind, open up to varying opinions." See, this comment bothers me because few of us have seen the movie. It doesn't appear to me that anyone is trying to convince anyone that this movie is great. There are comments from people that obviously haven't seen the film trying to convince us what the film's intentions are based off of a trailer. And because you walked away from the film with your own interpretation of what you saw, you seem to think anyone that walks away that didn't agree just didn't understand it. Let others see it.

  • ernchamp | May 2, 2012 9:03 PMReply

    i saw a screening of this a few weeks ago in LA on the fox lot....loved it.....this little girl is amazing and so is the man playing her dad. left me in tears!

  • rane | May 2, 2012 6:14 PMReply

    AWESOME!

  • Nadine | May 2, 2012 6:22 PM

    ...I think it kind of is.

  • Nia | May 2, 2012 5:07 PMReply

    Stunning trailer! I've been waiting so long to see this. I can't wait util it comes to my city.

  • Nadine | May 4, 2012 11:44 AM

    ... thanks ALI.

  • Ali | May 2, 2012 6:25 PM

    Nadine, I'm assuming that's what it means. It doesn't make sense if the person isn't saying something unique or outlandish. The site itself is hyping the film, is Tambay a plant too? lol

  • Nadine | May 2, 2012 5:56 PM

    What does "plant" mean (someone here on the boards only to make their own film/interest look better... idk)? I'm trying to get it from the context. I had no idea of the genre of this film.... watching the trailer I kept thinking, Pan' Labyrinth/Where the Wild Things are... I glad there is finally a trailer... really helped me understand more of the plot (was slightly confusing before).

  • Ali | May 2, 2012 5:21 PM

    So, let me get this straight, someone is a plant because they say they want to see a highly acclaimed film? A film that is reviewed positively on the same very site we are currently on with that writer quoted in the trailer? Alright...

  • the Plant Police | May 2, 2012 5:13 PM

    Plant alert! LMFAO.

  • Bama | May 2, 2012 3:08 PMReply

    Just so I'm clear -- is this director and writer Black or not?

  • Knative | May 2, 2012 8:53 PM

    Have you even seen the movie yet?
    Maybe you should start until after you see the movie Bama, because you might actually like the characters and plot etc.

  • Bama | May 2, 2012 6:13 PM

    Ali, you are right. I should have researched it myself. I just did. White director. White writer. White producers. White cinematography, on down the line. I'm clear now. White people at white festivals saying it's the greatest thing since everything. Yes. It is starting and it needs to be started.

  • Knative | May 2, 2012 5:57 PM

    Maybe I am wrong, but I thought the little girl competed against non-black actors to get the part. The story wasn't originally supposed to be of a "black child in the bayou" but just a child in the bayou, and they picked the black girl because she was the best actress. I might be thinking of a different film though.

  • Ali | May 2, 2012 5:02 PM

    It's starting...

  • RR | May 2, 2012 4:49 PM

    Benh isnt black. His film company name is court 13 and is named after a squash court at Wesleyan. Yessiree. just the guy I want telling the story of a black child in the bayou. He'll get it just right. Don't you love the Uncombed hair and this black girl child runs around in panties and boots?! It's a magical fantasy! It's white genius!

  • Ali | May 2, 2012 3:19 PM

    You could just look him up. No, he's not.

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