In 2012, Benh Zeitlin won the prestigious Camera d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film tells the story of a girl named Hushpuppy (played by five-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis) and her bayou surroundings as she navigates childhood amidst a devastating hurricane. The film has since become an international success.
Eight years ago, while still an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, Zeitlin founded the Court 13 film collective. His senior thesis film, Egg, can be seen below.
“I had this giant story I wanted to tell about a microscopic pirate hunting the yolk of the Egg, ending up getting eaten and fighting his way all the way through the digestive system of a gigantic bird monster. I had about 4,000 dollars to tell it and so the only way to get it done was to learn to animate, build the sets and props by hand, and enlist every friend I had to camp out in my basement and create the adventure frame by frame. After the fire department evicted us, calling my set the worst fire hazard in the history of the school, I moved into an abandoned squash court, court # 13. That address came to symbolize this rag-tag, hand-built approach to telling stories and an approach that required living the story in order to tell it. Those principles became a sort of code of honor that defined several subsequent stories and grew into Beasts several years later.” – Benh Zeitlin