Award-nominated ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ concludes Film Festival

The final event of the Macon Film Festival was a screening of the Academy Award-nominated film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. The film has garnered universal acclaim since its release at the Sundance Film Festival and has gone on to be nominated for four Academy Awards.
The film follows the story of a young girl named Hushpuppy and her father Wink. They live in a rural Louisiana community known as “The Bathtub”, located south of a levee. The community is small, poor and close-knit. They spurn government aid in exchange for their freedom. They live in a community they know will flood if a powerful storm blows through. When this occurs, it becomes the story of how a community can be a family and persevere through something together.
The cast of this film may be the most genuine to appear in a film in years. The actors have amazing chemistry together and not one bad performance is turned in. This is especially surprising since the cast was mostly made up of first-time actors. Quvenzhané Wallis was only six years old when she was cast as Hushpuppy, and despite her young age she is a wonderful lead for the film. She gives the character an innocence that gives her comments about her life more weight. Dwight Henry as her father, Wink, is amazing to watch. He has a manic, but contained, energy that always seems to lurk beneath the surface, ready to burst out. His interactions with Wallis are fascinating to watch. They have a strong father-daughter relationship that is strained at first, but the love between the characters does show in times of stress. The rest of the cast is great as well, but they are onscreen mostly in a group as the core community members.
The Bathtub itself is as essential to the film as the characters. Though set in a fictional community in Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish, the film was actually shot in Terrebonne Parish. The rural community definitely takes inspiration from actual rural fishing towns in the bayou that constantly face the threats of erosion, flooding and government relocation.
The cinematography is beautiful. It is easy to see why the residents of the Bathtub are so attached to their home. Early in the film, Wink says that they have the most beautiful view in the world, and it is easy to agree with him. The characters do not have easy lives by any means, but they do enjoy their lives.
The music goes from Southern instrumentals to haunting melodies that perfectly convey the tone of the scenes. The choices for the score are perfect and memorable. It is interesting to see how balanced the film is between the surreal imaginative elements, as seen by Hushpuppy, with the cold reality of their world. Since the film is being seen almost exclusively from Hushpuppy’s perspective, the world takes on a mystical appearance at times. Through her eyes, what could have been a small movie takes on an epic scale.
The film is difficult to watch at times, but for every moment of heartbreak and horror there are moments of wonder and resilience. The film deserves the accolades given to it and is one of the stronger movies to come out last year.