Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin (right) with producer Michael Gottwald (left). Photo by Eugene Hernandez / FSLC.
Today’s edition of “The Daily Buzz” marked one week into the Sundance Film Festival, and there were signs of wear: half the guests seemed to have lost their voices. But that didn’t stop the show’s guest critics and filmmakers alike from exuberantly touting their top films of the festival so far.
One obvious bright spot so far is Beasts of the Southern Wild, a Sundance discovery that was quickly acquired by Fox Searchlight and seems sure to become one of 2012’s most-discussed movies. Difficult to thoroughly describe, the film pivots around a young girl named Hushpuppy who lives with her dad in a sequestered lower Delta island community in Louisiana amid a series of fantastical experiences sparked by her father's illness. On the show, director Benh Zeitlin tells Film Society’s Eugene Hernandez that he embarked on a guerrilla search to find the girl at the film's heart, and he loved so many he auditioned he eventually made some male characters female.
In an earlier segment with Anne Thompson and David Ansen, Beasts also dominated the conversation, with Thompson breathlessly praising it and Ansen not far behind. “I’d been hearing hype, which always makes me nervous,” he joked—but the film didn’t let him down. Another film discussed in the segement was The Surrogate, a drama that has sparked alarmingly early 2013 Oscar talk for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.
Bart Layton, director of documentary The Impostor, joined the show to break down his decision to use reenactments in the movie (“a dirty word,” as he called it) and the elusive question of what it means to be a documentary in the first place. Layton posits that the film—the jaw-dropping, fact-based story of a San Antonio family that receives a boy who claims to be their missing teenage son— had to be told with a blend of documentary and old-fashioned narrative techniques or it simply would have seemed too preposterous.
The show concluded with John Sloss of Cinetic Media, a consummate Sundance insider whose work plays a pivotal role in the festival as one of the premiere marketplaces for American independents.
Listen to the whole podcast of Tuesday's show above. Track us anytime on Twitter, ask questions or join the conversation using: #SundanceBuzz.