"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

“Beasts” has not been widely distributed, but I was able to see this film in July at the Westhampton Theater here in Richmond, VA. Although, generally speaking, film is about visuals, this movie is packed with lessons that can be applied to the craft of writing for children. Told from the viewpoint of six-year-old Hushpuppy, “Beasts” describes her impoverished, hard-scrabble life on an island off the southern delta. Abandoned by her mother years before and comforted only by her pets and her vibrant imagination, Hushpuppy lives side by side, in separate shacks, with her alcoholic father, Wink, who is dying. Daunting circumstances at any age. A lethal storm thunders in from the sea and Hushpuppy imagines all her fears transformed into beasts, liberated from the melting ice caps, come to confront her. The translation of the imaginary language of a child’s mind to the visual language of film is rarely as fluent as it is here. The blending of fable, myth and reality is a master class for all who love and write stories for and about children of any age. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival after competing in the Un Certain Regard section. It also won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered. The film went on to earn the Los Angeles Film Festival’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and the Seattle International Film Festival’s Golden Space Needle Award for Best Director.

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