“Beasts of the Southern Wild” director Benh Zeitlin on the score, his young star and creating the Bath Tub


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“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is already this year’s little indie that could. It won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Caméra D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and most recently the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. And for good reason. The movie is a spectacular hat tip to the resilience of those who live in Louisiana as well as being a grander folk tale told through the eyes of a six-year-old.

IFC got the chance to catch up with director Benh Zeitlin when he was in Los Angeles to promote the movie before its premiere at the LA Film Festival. We chatted about everything from the movie’s fantastic young lead, Quvenzhane Wallis, to the impressive score he and his best friend Dan Romer wrote in their Brooklyn basement, and everything in between.

IFC: How did you construct a fantasy location that felt as real as the Bath Tub?

BEN ZEITLIN: It’s all built out of real things. It’s not like an imagined place. It’s a series of things that don’t necessarily co-exist at once, but which all exist within the region. I sort of think of it as the island of Louisiana that encompasses New Orleans culture, Creole culture, Cajun culture, and sort of combines a rural mentality and a city mentality in a way that doesn’t exist but all those places have this sort of commonality in their fearlessness, and so certain things about it just made me feel like they could blend.

But there are places, at least 40 years ago. The island where we shot, Isle de Jean Charles, was this completely self-sufficient [community]. Fishing, farming, raising livestock, totally French-speaking, own educational system, just totally off the grid, and it’s shot there, and I think the difference is just that that was a Native American population with a very specific culture that this film isn’t about, it’s about a certain kind of culture, but certainly it’s inspired by those people and people all facing kind of the extinction of their land and their place.

The reason it feels real is because it’s all built with real stuff. We don’t paint things to look like bricks. We put the bricks there.

IFC: And yet at the same time it is this fable, in a way. What about you as a filmmaker made you interested in this blend of fantasy and firmly rooted reality?

BZ: Well I started in animation, so I think that’s part of it. I think I’ve always been interested in telling sort of these like epic folk tales or myths, so that’s probably the way my head works a bit. My parents are folklorists, they probably filled my head with a bunch of nonsense. I’m interested in mythology and big stories that take on huge questions that can kind of speak universally. I don’t want things to be rooted in kind of the specifics of politics or the specifics of anything. I want to sort of talk broadly and tell kind of Bible stories, or something like that.

The reality and fantasy in this movie, to me, is actually all really just about it’s a film from the reality of a six-year-old. It’s from a time when you don’t really parse out what’s in your imagination and what’s happening, so I just wanted to make a film that respected that. I love kids and I think that they’re smarter than adults 80 or 90 percent of the time, so I wanted to make a film that respected that reality and that perspective and didn’t question, oh, she’s just imagining that or that’s not real. Just give her the movie.

IFC: Speaking of which, Quvenzhane is a little powerhouse in this movie and it’s the first time that she’s acted, so how did you find her and how were you able to draw that performance out of her?

BZ: We just looked real hard. We looked at 4000 kids across eight parishes, tried to see every kid in Louisiana basically, but it’s in her. The very first time I saw her, she was like fierce and defiant and wise beyond her years. She was five years old when she came in and she had this focus that we hadn’t seen from kids twice her age. She’s some sort of supernatural creature that came to us. The performance is like a real collaboration. You don’t have to sort of talk down to her like a kid or trick her into feeling things. She can act and we have a sort of like brother/sister relationship which it’s unclear who’s the older brother and who’s the younger one, but you can take her aside.

You always have to play on set, you’ve got to sort of defy the stress of a movie set and make it fun but you can, when things are going wrong, take her aside and say, here’s what your character’s thinking, here’s where what they’re thinking changes, when you look over here, I want you to squint your eyes because and feel like the sun’s in them — she can do all that stuff. She’s incredible. No one in the film had ever acted before at all, and she, yeah, I don’t know, she’s born to do this.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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