High-flyer new director Benh Zeitlin collects prizes from Sundance to Cannes
Benh Zeitlin is a rising star in world cinema. After winning the 2012 Jury Grand Prize at the US's Sundance film festival, he made off with the coveted Caméra D’Or at Cannes. He also nabbed the Fipesci prize at the French festival, awarded by the Ecumenical Jury. Not bad for a director who hasn't quite reached 30 years of age yet.
Zeitlin’s film Beasts of the Southern Wild competed in Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival. The action is set in Louisana, a long walk south from his NY home, but a place he nonetheless knows quite well.
In a nutshell, the film is about a little girl, Hushpuppy, who leaves her poor home in search of her mother because her father, Wink, is in poor health and the area where she lives is so affected by environmental change and melting ice-caps that her life is also at risk.
Of course, the subject is gripping, topical and borne along by a small child’s starlet charm.
But without such a well-crafted scenario, cowritten by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar, and the directing Beasts might not have won all those prestigious prizes.
At Cannes Zeitlin was competing with new directors from all over the world, in all categories of the competition, as well as in the parallel Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week festivals.
After receiving his Golden Camera, Zeitlin, positively beaming, wide-eyed in his award-receiving dinner suit and bow tie, said it felt like “in space”, as in his feet weren’t touching the ground.
It’s likely he’s now returned to earth, but hopefully not quite, so that he can continue to confirm his talent.