Robert Morris / Uptown Messenger
NEW ORLEANS -- In “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a little girl named Hushpuppy is told of her destiny to one day be “king of the Bathtub.”
On Friday night, as her creator fielded question after question about her, it was clear that the sold-out audience at the Prytania Theatre had been conquered.
The film, written and shot over three years on the outermost fingers of marsh in Terrebonne Parish, is a sort of fairy tale about bravery in the face of loss, Peter Pan told by Terrence Malick and Oliver Houck in the swamps.
Between feasts and devastation, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis of Houma, who was 6 when the movie was filmed) learns from her slowly dying father Wink (played by Dwight Henry of New Orleans’ Buttermilk Drop Bakery) the strength to fend for herself once she is alone in a land that is slowly disappearing.
The New Orleans Film Society screening at the Prytania Theatre and subsequent question-and-answer session Friday night with director Benh Zeitlin sold out well before its 8 p.m. showtime, wrapping a line around the block of moviegoers waiting for the doors to open. After the film concluded to a round of applause, hardly anyone got up from their seat, and when Zeitlin appeared at the front of the theater, he was immediately asked about the remarkable little girl who narrates much of the movie.