Michelle Obama hosting White House discussion on ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’

A couple of weeks ago I watched Beasts of The Southern Wild on demand. It was a beautiful film and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It alternated between being incredibly real and hard-to-watch, and having a unique magical quality that softened the blow while highlighting how heartbreaking the young protagonist’s life was. It’s not an easy film to explain and I can’t sum up my feelings on it. I just wanted to protect the little girl at the center of the movie, deftly played by Quvenzhané Wallis, and make it all somehow ok for her. In that respect the film was very effective.

President Obama has commented on the Oscar-nominated movie, telling People Magazine that it was one of his favorite movies of 2012. He said “Beasts of the Southern Wild was spectacular. We saw it with friends and my nieces, one of whom is only 4 years old, and it captivated all of them.” It strikes me that Beasts is not appropriate for a four year-old, just in terms of the adult themes of loss and poverty. I wouldn’t let my eight year-old see it, but that’s a minor complaint. (Update: Obama also mentioned Life of Pi and Argo in that interview.)

There’s more good news for this fabulous film. Michelle Obama is going to host a discussion in the White House today on Beasts of The Southern Wild, with students invited to attend from New Orleans and Washington. Some of the stars from the film will be there, including Oscar-nominated actress Wallis.

First lady Michelle Obama will welcome 80 middle and high school students to the White House Wednesday for an interactive workshop featuring cast and crew from “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

As part of the workshop, Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, will moderate a discussion in the State Dining Room about “the film, its production, and the inspirational themes within it that students can apply to their own lives,” the White House said in an announcement.

“Featured members of the cast and crew, including Quvenzhané Wallis, will share their experiences as well as answer student questions.”

Students selected to attend are from Washington and New Orleans, where the Oscar-nominated film is set.

[From Politico]

I would love to take part in that panel! It would be incredible just to be there and hear everyone’s thoughts on the film. It’s not the type of movie you should watch alone like me. You’ll want to see it with friends and family like the Obamas did, otherwise it’s just too sad.

In related news about the FLOTUS, she wore a Jason Wu sheath dress to the State of The Union address yesterday. (Photos are here) I thought it was pretty and contemporary, although some people found it too informal. (Here’s a link to more on the dress and its origins.) The top part was a little strange to me, and I think the dress would have worked better if it was simply color-blocked instead of having that v-shape that goes up into the bustline.

First lady photos from WhiteHouse.gov and Flickr. Quvenzhané Wallis photos from WENN.com

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24 Responses to “Michelle Obama hosting White House discussion on ‘Beasts of The Southern Wild’”

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  1. Simmy says:

    Great idea. I didn’t love the movie the way so any people did, but there are a lot of great discussions to be had about it. Plus Michelle is awesome. This sounds like an incredible experience for those kids!

  2. loveisthecoal says:

    Yeah, I watched this movie by myself and I was an emotional wreck afterwards. It’s a beautiful film that I think everyone should see-just not by yourself!

  3. Tig says:

    I saw the movie too- and what they are going to talk about is beyond me. The young girl is cute, but why she got nominated for an Oscar eludes me- the guy who played her father was incredible, and if memory serves he was just
    as much a “first-timer” as she was. It was
    compelling in parts- SPOILER ALERT- the floating bar/house(boat?) of ill-repute was just so random and nuts. That and the ending- “evil” health care workers- put me off.

    If want to see a compelling documentary re aftermath of Katrina- tho the focus is animals- watch “Dogs of the Storm”( hope that’s correct) – very compelling.

    • Simmy says:

      I disagree that the health care workers were evil. We come at it on the side of the aid workers. The film tries to flip the perspective and show an audience why some people might make different choices than the ones we assume they should make. That in itself is worth discussing. Even if you think a movie is average, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing to talk about.

    • liz_bee says:

      The floating bar at the end was called “Elysium”–a reference to heaven. If you noticed, the woman Hushpuppy meets is essentially her mother, who “swam away” years ago. It’s all part of Hushpuppy’s odyssey.

      • cookie says:

        I was happy watching but wasn’t too struck by the movie until this scene funnily enough – the floating bar scenes were some of the most poetic and beautiful things I have ever seen on film, was in bits at the theatre, sobbing. Very moving and wonderful.

  4. magda says:

    It was also my favourite of 2012. I have a love affair with this film, and it was love at the first sight – after 5 minutes I knew that I will love this film forever :)
    I watched this film with my best friend and we were very very happy emotional wrecks after. I don’t think film is too sad, just enough sadness to cleansing the soul if that make sense.

  5. T.C. says:

    I think that quote was cut off because President Obama named three films as his favorites Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi and Argo. He gave Ben Affleck a shout out too.http://www.beastsofthesouthernwild.com/news/president-obamas-picks-of-2012/

    The workshop is a good idea. Talking about poverty and Katrina using the eyes of a 6 year old child.

  6. Nev says:

    Amazing film. Hope she wins!!!!
    Life of Pi. Stunning book and movie!

  7. Leek says:

    I watched this with my eight year old and he loved it. It was great to be able to talk to him about the world outside of our bubble that’s still inside the U.S. It was a really lovely film and fun for me to see how much he cared for and empathized with the characters.

  8. Blannie says:

    I wanted to love it, but I couldn’t get through it and I quit after an hour. It was too sad for me.

  9. Tig says:

    “Evil” was put in quotes in my posting above to reflect that’s how they were being portrayed – not that I thought they were evil.

    The problem I have with portraying heavily drinking/possibly mentally ill individuals as some kind of person choosing to live a different style of life – esp when children are involved-as romantic or at best misunderstood- is so divorced from the reality that it really bothers me. I worked with child protective services for a long time- in real life these types of situations rarely end well, esp for the children.

    Forgive the soapbox – I’ll return to commenting on gowns!

  10. Chordy says:

    I can’t even look at Quvenzhané Wallis’s face without wanting to burst into tears. I wonder if her parents have to keep strangers from hugging her all the time.

  11. lucy2 says:

    I thought it was a strange and sad and beautiful movie too, and a great one for a discussion panel like this.
    I’m thrilled she got a nomination, but agree the actor who played her father was amazing too, I hope he gets more opportunities to act as well.

    Still haven’t seen Argo yet, but Life of Pi was BEAUTIFUL. Visually the most stunning movie I’ve possibly ever seen, and the story is great too.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      I can’t remember whose film it is, but he has been cast been cast in another rather high-profile role off of the strength of that performance. I think it’s so sweet that he (who owns and runs a bakery) would bring her cookies that he baked for her every morning. He knows his way around children.

  12. Aqua says:

    Glad I clicked on this post. I’ve read so much about this movie that I’m planning on watching it this weekend on Video on Demand,probably alone, with a box or two of Kleenex.Thanks for the heads up on that.