The movie’s central character, a six-year-old girl with curly hair and a stubborn face, lives in a poor and degraded village in the depth of Louisiana. The child, Hushpuppy, is raised by a loving, but sick and alcohol-addicted father. The daughter has plenty of time to explore the world around her, bringing her experience with all the unpleasant and dangerous events she will confront when her father dies.
When Hushpuppy’s isolated village gets flooded, her family and several neighbors struggle to survive in a small boathouse. Quite soon the slow-developing story suddenly speeds up when, desperate to get on solid ground again, villagers blow up the nearby dam to reduce the water level. The dam is a clear symbol of a distant modern world, far beyond the borders of the village. It also explodes frighteningly easy, giving viewers a feeling that something terrible is being released. Hushpuppy seems to feel this too.
Before filming “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” his first feature after several shorts, director Behn Zeitlin and some crew members spent some time living in a Louisiana village to have a closer look at the lifestyle of locals.