Q&A with Beasts of the Southern Wild director, writer, producer and cinematographer at ND/NF '12. Photo by Godlis.

On the first of April, New Directors/New Films attendees were shocked to discover they were about to see Beasts of the Southern Wild as the festival's surprise Closing Night film. Benh Zeitlin, the film's director, took the stage at the Walter Reade Theater to introduce the film and declared the event as the “home screening” of Beasts, since he showed his short at the Walter Reade a few years ago and the film's producer, Dan Janvey, was an usher at the theater. They returned to the Film Society for ND/NF under very different circumstances. Zeitlin's feature debut was a runaway hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the award for best cinematography. The wide acclaim continued at the Cannes Film Festival in May, where it won the Camera d'Or, the prize for best first feature. 

Zeitlin and Janvey were joined on stage for a Q&A following the screening by co-writer Lucy Alibar and cinematographer Ben Richardson. Rajendra Roy, MoMA's Chief Film Curator, aptly noted in this discussion that the magical reception the film has received is only fitting given the its majestic qualityBeasts follows a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy, whose world is quite literally turned upside down after her father becomes ill. The film's protagonist is played by QuvenzhanĂ© Wallis, who has taken the festival circuit by storm with an astonishing performance. Wallis, along with every other actor in the film, as Zeitlin points out, is a non-professional actor and was one of the four-thousand young girls who audutioned for the role.

Beasts of the Southern Wild opens theatrically tomorrow, June 27, in New York and Los Angeles, and in dozens more cities in the following weeks.

Before you see the film, watch full video of our ND/NF Q&A below:
Here's an interview with Beasts' director and two stars at this year's Cannes Film Festival:

And here's the trailer: