Young filmmaker Benh Zeitlin took Sundance by storm in 2012 with his emotional indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, and a year later that translated into multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. All eyes were on what Zeitlin would direct next, as some pegged him as the frontrunner to helm Jurassic Park 4 while others opined he’d take his sensibilities to a larger canvas with an original studio project. None of that came to pass, however, and things have been incredibly quiet on the Zeitlin front in the ensuing two years—he hasn’t even directed an episode of television, which is where a lot of filmmakers are moving these days in between films.
However, it looks as though Zeitlin has been busy in the interim, as word comes that he’s readying to shoot his next directorial effort Wendy in Antigua. Described as a fantasy adventure, the picture revolves around “a young girl who gets kidnapped onto a hidden ecosystem where a tribal war is raging over a form of pollen that breaks the relationship between aging and time.”
The folks at The Film Stage got their hands on a casting call in which Zeitlin is again looking to discover a young child actor, as he did with Quvenzhane Wallis on Beasts of the Southern Wild. Moreover, the filmmaker elaborates to the Antigua Observer about his plans for the shoot:
“It’s not a hundred million-dollar movie coming in with airplanes and giant everything. It’ll be a small group of people building out of scrap metal and things we find, and the interesting thing is that even though we’re such a small production the reach could be very, very far. It’s a lot of very young people who want to have great time and want to be a part of the place that they’re filming. It’s a small group of people.”
So, with any luck, it sounds like Zeitlin’s long-awaited follow-up may be ready in time for the 2016 festivals. Might he be making a return to Sundance? If he’s just starting production now it’ll be cutting it close, but Whiplash had a similar window in 2013 and was ready in time for the 2014 festival. Regardless, I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Zeitlin puts together.