Louisiana film gains top honors at Sundance Film Festival

Louisiana film gains top honors at Sundance Film Festival
Photo provided by the Sundance Film Festival website.
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POSTED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:53pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 3:50pm

Louisiana continues to move up in film industry ranks, with the latest happening over the weekend at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” won the grand jury prize in the U.S. dramatic competition. The film was directed by Benh Zeitlin, 29, and tells the story of an 8-year old girl who is forced to learn how to fend for herself in post-Katrina New Orleans after her father falls ill.

The idea for the first-time filmmaker was inspired while he was crashing on a friend’s floor in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina. He collaborated with playwright Lucy Alibar to build the script.

With his script in shape, Zeitlin began casting in Louisiana. He prefers working with non-professional actors because how he creates characters “is very much collaborative with the person who’s playing it.”
Zeitlin says he looked at over 3,500 kids to play the tiny-hero character, Hushpuppy.

Inspiration for the project may have come from Hurricane Katrina, but Louisiana’s latest tragedy also affected the project. The first day of photography happened the day of the Deep Water Horizon accident that subsequently caused the largest oil spill in US history.

Zeitlin is a New York-native, but has been living in New Orleans for the past six years.

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