END OF THE WORLD An apocalypse threatens Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Credit: Ben Richards

The movie tells an unusual story to be sure, but executives at Fox Searchlight — one of the powerhouses in the indie film world — see enough potential in the surreal, poetic drama Beasts of the Southern Wild to claim it as its own at the Sundance Film Festival.

The movie, from director and co-writer Benh Zeitlin, is about a 6-year-old named Hushpuppy and her father named Wink, who live in a flood-prone southern region known as the Bathtub, in a dreamlike parallel version of our world. Nature goes haywire when Wink gets sick, and Hushpuppy must go in search of her long-lost mother as floodwaters rise, the apocalypse looms, and the bizarre creatures of the title roam the land.

Searchlight went deep into its pockets in the last few days, spending $6 million on the disabled love story The Surrogate, but no dollar figure was associated with the sale of Beasts. “Sometimes when filmmakers get more into the poetry, it might not be as accessible, but this manages to do both. It’s a fairy tale,” Sundance chief programmer Trevor Groth told EW before the festival.

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EW Special Coverage: Sundance Film Festival