Alum’s Film Wins Big at Sundance
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” the debut film from director Benh Zeitlin ’04, won the Grand Jury Prize and an award for Excellence in Cinematography at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, which took place from Jan. 19 to Jan. 29. The film debuted at Sundance to mostly positive reviews, and was quickly purchased for U.S. distribution by Fox Searchlight, which plans to release the film this year.
The film, which was developed in coordination with the Sundance Institute’s filmmaker labs, used amateur actors to tell the story of Hushpuppy, a six year old girl, and her sick father, as they struggle to survive in the Louisiana delta in the midst of a series of apocalyptic events.
Although rooted in New Orleans, Zeitlin’s filmmaking collective, Court 13, was formed while working on his thesis film at Wesleyan, which was an eight minute film combining stop motion and live action. They called themselves Court 13 after the Wesleyan squash court that the collective frequently used as a filming location.
The members of Court 13 have created a number of short films together since then. “Beasts,” their first feature length film, was produced by Michael Gottwald ’06, Dan Janvey ’06 and Josh Penn. It was co-written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar. In addition to their own work, Court 13 has also produced a number of music videos, including a few for fellow University alumni, MGMT.