Saturday, 19 May 2012


The business of marketing summer tentpoles has gotten out of hand.  After three movies and $2.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales, is a four minute super-trailer for The Amazing Spiderman really going to convince audiences to check out the latest version of old Web-head?  How elaborate does the viral campaign for Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to the Alien franchise, need to be to ensure box-office supremacy?  Even though they're sure things, this summer’s blockbusters have been over-marketed and over-hyped to the point where my anticipation has been completely extinguished.  I’m not foaming at the mouth see The Dark Knight Rises.  A six-minute prologue was attached to IMAX screenings of Mission: Impossible back in December, so I can wait a little while longer to see exactly how Christopher Nolan plans on bringing Gotham City to its knees.  Again.  But one film, amidst this exhausting advertising blitzkrieg, has managed to pique my interest.

Beast of the Southern Wild is an American indie that debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it courted rave reviews and won the coveted Grand Jury Prize.  Yesterday it made an international splash at Cannes.

Subtlety and artful restraint have distinguished Fox Searchlight’s ad campaign, who pounced on distribution rights at Sundance and intend to position it as mid-summer counter-programming nestled between high-profile release like Pixar’s Brave and G.I. Joe.

Beasts was made in a creative vacuum by Coney Island-reared director, Ben Zeitlin, and his talented team at the filmmaking collective, Court 13.  And it shows in the trailer, which retains all the whimsy and magic realism of his earlier short, Glory At Sea.

Zeitlin was raised by folklorists.  His parents studied the colourful milieu of travelling medicine shows, so he's probably well versed in the trappings of hucksterism.  His production methods are inspired by Cassavetes and Herzog, while the work itself evokes Terrence Malick and early David Gordon Green. is a new interactive website that went live this week.  It's a charming experience and refreshingly original.  It also features clips from the film, buoyed by Dan Romer’s dreamlike score, which has received unanimous praise. 

The Avengers had its hand in my wallet the day it was green-lit.  Beasts of the Southern Wild however, has flown under the radar for a good long while, but is slowly emerging as my must-see movie of the summer.  Blockbusters beware.

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