As I’ve started to read about the Sundance film Beasts of the Southern Wild (check our review here), what keeps coming to mind is something like the early films of David Gordon Green filtered through the sensibility of author China Mieville. The film shows us the world through the eyes of a six-year old girl, but that world isn’t quite ‘real.’ It is the creation of director Benh Zeitlin. His landscape is based in part on a post-Katrina Louisiana landscape, but it also has many other elements, some realistic and some fantastic, woven into its fabric.

But rather than looking to some esoteric and possibly way off-base comparison to get an idea of what Beasts of the Southern Wild might be like, let’s look back to the 2008 short film from the same director. Glory at Sea is also by Zeitlin, and like his new feature the short is also set in a landscape that is at least influenced by the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. But this is no When the Levees Broke; rather it is a film that uses images that suggest a devastated Louisiana as part of a story about following faith and vision even in the aftermath of apocalypse.

Zeitlin breaks many rules of shooting low-budget indie films: he shoots with kids, and on the water, and with a couple of wild, homemade sets. Well, ‘sets’ is a loosely applicable term, but you’ll see what I mean. Glory at Sea is a pretty fantastic 25-minute short, and I highly recommend giving it a look. Read More »

Fox Searchlight has become a big buyer at Sundance in the past couple years, and this year has already picked up two of the most acclaimed films playing the fest. Last night the company grabbed the rights to the John Hawkes/Helen Hunt film The Surrogate, which is already generating Oscar talk for next year thanks to the strength of Hawkes’ performance.

And now Fox Searchlight has finalized a deal to distribute the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Neither Pete nor Germain has seen the film yet, so we haven’t covered it up until this point, but the movie quickly became one of the Sundance films I’m most interested in seeing, as early reviews have used language like “remarkable, beautiful, moving and astonishing” to describe the story that gets inside the head of a young girl worried about the end of her universe. Read More »

Sundance Labs

Sundance has announced the 12 projects they have chosen for the 2009 Directors and Screenwriters lab. Why should you care? Well because the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has hand picked some of the most original filmmakers of the last 28 years.

Here are some of the films that have come out of the program: Quentin Tarantino‘s Reservoir Dogs, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Hard Eight, Kimberly Peirce‘s Boy’s Don’t Cry, Darren Aronofsky‘s Requiem for a Dream, John Cameron Mitchell‘s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Peter Sollett‘s Raising Victor Vargas, Miranda July‘s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Ryan Fleck‘s Half Nelson, and most recently Cary Fukunaga‘s Sin Nombre and Alex Rivera‘s Sleep Dealer.

So, what 12 projects have been chosen for this year’s Summer labs? Find out after the jump.
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