A Radiant Baby

 

Benh Zeitlin, NYC, 6/22/12

Benh Zeitlin, NYC, 6/22/12

Six-year-old Hushpuppy (luminous, irreplaceable Quvenzhané Wallis), filled with a young child’s sense of wonder (and a survivor’s steel) makes her own sense of the irrational, inexplicable, tragic.  The center of director Benh Zeitlin’s beautiful hyper-real folk tale,”Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Hushpuppy lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in two rusting trailers filled with precious junk, in a fictional bayou community, called The Bathtub, south of New Orleans’ levees, almost knowing that her reality is about to be swept away.

Zeitlin, when I asked what it felt like to triumph with his first feature at Sundance (Grand Jury prize) and Cannes (Caméra d’Or), said, “It’s surreal.  It’s all moving very fast,” an echo of what Steven Soderbergh, who also won at Sundance with an audacious debut, replied to the same question shortly after his “sex, lies and videotape” had won the Palme d’Or: “I don’t know.  I thought my 10 closest friends would see my film four times each and that would be all.”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” will open on Wednesday, June 27 in New York and Los Angeles.

Steven Soderbergh, Washington, D.C., 7/25/89

Yesterday a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision made this a more humane and merciful country for all, but particularly 2,000 inmates who were sentenced while still minors to life in prison without the chance of parole.  In Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, the Court ruled that the mandatory life sentences required in 29 states for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional.

Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a relentless advocate for the powerless, represented the defendants, Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, who were sentenced at 14 and are now entitled to new sentencing hearings.

Stevenson said, “Today’s decision requires the lower courts to conduct new sentencing hearings where judges will have to consider children’s individual character and life circumstances, including age, as well as the circumstances of the crime.”

Bryan Stevenson, NYC, 4/1/10

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