On day 3, I had a chance to catch several anticipated films. For starters, TEDDY BEAR, about a Danish bodybuilder’s quest for romance in Pattaya, Thailand. The theater was full and, post-screening, the audience response was overwhelmingly pleased. Then, I introduced the second feature to be included at the LRFF by Martha Stephens, Pilgrim Song, which follows a young protagonist, James, as he sets out to hike Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace after losing his teaching job and foundering in his relationship. Stephens discussed her relationship to the Southern scenes and characters in the film—everything from old-time music, cloggers, and river baptisms—revealing that these were all real aspects of her life growing up in rural Kentucky (some of the characters are even her relatives). She also spoke about the length of time it took her to scout for the breathtaking locations on the lengthy trail—at least a year—admitting that it was quite a task for the crew loaded down with equipment to hike around during filming.
Finally, I was lucky enough to catch the LRFF premiere of the highly anticipated Beasts of the Southern Wild—easily this year’s most buzzed-about festival film. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. It’s a dazzling piece of cinema, told through the perspective of its compelling main character, Hushpuppy, a little girl who lives in a poor wetland community called the Bathtub, full of raucous characters and a whimsical grasp on reality. Part adventure story, part coming-of-age tale, Beasts has garnered praise recently at Sundance and Cannes—and you can still catch it right here in Little Rock, only one of the few other festivals where it will be showing. After the screening, associate producer and location manager Casey Coleman was on hand to discuss the filming of Beasts, which largely took place about 90 miles south of New Orleans in Terrebonne Parish. Coleman described how the community of this small coastal down was so helpful and supportive in the making of the movie, giving the filmmakers an opportunity to make a lot of magic happen on a very tight budget. He also revealed how they found their star, the charming Quvenzhane Wallis, who had lied about her age in order to audition at the mere age of five—and whose access to emotion and ability to stay in character made it unquestionable she would be the star.
There was great food a fantastic DJ at the after party at the Peabody Hotel’s Arkansas Ballroom. Folks were getting down on the dance floor towards the end of the night and a nice crisp breeze wafted over the balcony with its lovely view of the Arkansas River at night.
If you missed last night’s screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild, not to worry! It’s showing again this afternoon, at 4:15 PM. We’ve also got some other great features lined up. At 4:45 PM, check out A Sister’s Call, an incredibly moving documentary about a woman who finds her estranged brother Call after twenty years and how her obsession with reestablishing a life for him comes to reveal all of the psychological and emotional strains on her family—it’s a shocking excavation of a family’s troubled past, and Rebecca Schaper, the principal and director, will be on hand to discuss this emotional documentary. At 8:15, we’ve also got Supporting Characters—a wincingly hilarious portrayal of some behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking: a rivalry and partnership between two editors and their messy personal and professional lives. Also, don’t forget about the awesome Sync or Swim riverboat party tonight—we board at 10:30 PM on the dot, and this is definitely a throwdown you don’t want to miss!