WHEELING -"Beasts of the Southern Wild" has won every prize from Sundance to Cannes. Roger Ebert has declared it to be "one of the year's best films." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Report said it is "one of the most striking narrative films to ever debut at the Sundance Film Festival." It will be shown for one weekend only- Oct. 5, 6 and 7- at Oglebay Institute's Towngate Cinema.
The film introduces us to a gifted young director, Benh Zeitlin, who has created a captivating, mythical world of beauty, wonder and terror in this film, which, in his words, merges "the poetics of an art film with something that feels like Die Hard." Critics and viewers agree it's a great combination.
The story centers on six-year-old Hushpuppy and her father Wink. They live in the Bathtub- a mythical southern Delta community at the edge of the world. A close-knit community, the Bathtub is isolated from the rest of the world by a giant levee. The people who live here face grueling challenges- extreme poverty, hurricanes, melting ice caps unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures.
Hushpuppy and Wink live in a house sitting on shaky stilts. Their boat is the back end of a truck propped up on oil barrels. The story is told from Hushpuppy's perspective combining her vivid imagination with the harsh realities of the world in which she lives. Her innocence and fearlessness enable her to feel unafraid. She is strongly connected with this remote location that lives in harmony with the not-always-friendly forces of nature. "I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe," she says with confidence and pride.
Wink is both a loving and harsh father. Facing a serious illness, his goal is to prepare his daughter for an unraveling universe and teach her how to survive on her own.
Hushpuppy is played by newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis, who was 5 years old when the film was cast, 7 when it was completed. She was chosen from 3,500 candidates, and critics are calling her performance "spellbinding," "a flat out amazement," and "a towering achievement." There is plenty of Oscar buzz surrounding her performance.
Critics are also touting the performance of Dwight Henry as Wink. Like Wallis he has never acted before. He is a bakery owner from New Orleans whose debut performance is being described as raw, unsettling and powerful.
Rated PG-13, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" will be shown at 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5; 4, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.
Located at 2118 Market Street, Towngate Cinema is easy to find and located just across the street from St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in the historic Centre Market District of Wheeling.
Towngate Cinema will present two other films in October. The romantic comedy "Ruby Sparks," staring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Annette Bening, about a young novelist who achieved phenomenal success early in his career but is now struggling with his writing as well as his romantic life will be shown Oct. 12-14. "Your Sister's Sister," an indie comedy/drama, staring Emily Blunt, about three people in a cabin struggling with issues of romance, grief and sibling rivalry will be shown Oct. 19-21.
Oglebay Institute's Cinema program is underwritten by the Ogden Newspapers and all Towngate films are shown for one weekend only. Tickets are available at the door. The box office opens one hour before all shows and can be reached at 304-233-0820.