Loading Events

Beasts of the ‘Northern’ Wild: Why Benh Zeitlin’s Indie Film is So Important

The registration list and wait list for this event have both reached full capacity. We are no longer accepting reservations for this program.

Described by A.O. Scott as “a passionate and unruly explosion of Americana,” Benh Zeitlin’s ambitious Beasts of the Southern Wild, which has taken the film festival circuit by storm, is set to become an American classic. A magical realist post-apocalyptic tale set in a watery Louisiana basin and starring a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy, the film speaks to contemporary concerns about environmental preservation, sustainable food practices, and cross-racial alliance building.

Join folklorists Steve Zeitlin (Founding Director, City Lore) and Amanda Dargan (Education Director, City Lore)—who also happen to be Benh’s parents—and Dan Romer (the film’s co-composer), interdisciplinary writer Jessica Hagedorn (Toxicology), Carol Bebelle (Co-founder and Director, Ashe Cultural Arts Center), and writer Carrie Leilam Love for a series of diverse readings on the film’s power, relevancy, and magic. Jack Tchen (Founding Director, Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU) leads a wrap-up discussion on what it means to be an American, devising decolonizing collaborations, New Orleans, and concerns of representation. Lunch will be provided.

Please RSVP by Thursday, October 4, 2012 using the form below. Reservations are also accepted via email (apa.rsvp@nyu.edu) or phone (212.992.9653).

Imagining America is a consortium of universities and organizations dedicated to advancing the public and civic purposes of humanities, arts, and design.


Amanda Dargan is the Education Director of City Lore, a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster New York City’s living cultural heritage through education and public programs. She manages City Lore’s national outreach and New York City arts and history education programs, coordinates professional development for teachers and teaching artists, and co-edits CARTS Magazine. Her essays on family folklore, children’s play, the language of carnival and medicine show talkers, and folk arts in education have appeared in the Journal of American Folklore, Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Encyclopedia of New York City, Educational Leadership, Play from Birth to Twelve and Beyond, and Through the Schoolhouse Door. She is coauthor of the book, City Play, which won the Opie Prize from the American Folklore Society. Amanda has a Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Folklore from the University of Newfoundland.


Photo Credit: Miriam Berkley

Jessica Hagedorn was born and raised in the Philippines and came to the United States in her early teens. Her novels include Toxicology, Dream Jungle, The Gangster of Love, and Dogeaters, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She is also the author of Danger and Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, and the editor of Charlie Chan Is Dead: an Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction and Charlie Chan Is Dead 2: At Home in the World. Her plays include Most Wanted, The Heaven Trilogy, and the stage adaptation of Dogeaters. She is the University Professor of Creative Writing in the MFA Program at LIU Brooklyn.





Carrie Leilam Love is a writer and arts educator from Oakland, California. She spends her days providing literary arts programming for San Francisco youth, and her tortured nights writing fiction and poetry, which has been published by Diner Journal, Intersection for the Arts, and others. She has presented her work at RADAR, Lit Crawl, The Living Room, and recently performed to a sold-out crowd as part of Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance. She is a former contributing editor for Ironing Board Collective, where she wrote about the oft troubling and sometimes empowering intersections of politics and sartorial choice alongside Thomas McBee and Michelle Tea. She is the founder of The Ephemory Project, a website where people come together to answer violence with creativity.  She thinks a lot about race and representation, and the myriad ways we are all disrupting and perpetuating racism through our art. When she is not too busy thinking, teaching, and writing, she plays Roller Derby with the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls and curates her soon-to-be-renowned 80s boot collection.


Dan Romer is a New York born and raised music producer, writer, mixer, and film composer based out of his studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Dan’s first major credit was performing on and mixing/mastering Ingrid Michaelson’s debut album Girls and Boys. He went on to produce her subsequent albums Be Ok and Everybody. Dan has produced albums for an array of exciting artists such as a Jenny Owen Youngs, Ian Axel, He Is We, April Smith, Lelia Broussard, Cara Salimando, and Jukebox The Ghost. He is quickly establishing a name for himself as an in demand producer/writer and one of the leading up and coming production talents in New York. In addition to his prolific production work Dan is an accomplished film composer having scored two award-winning short films Death To The Tinman and Glory At Sea, as well as Beasts of The Southern Wild–his first feature film which was winner of the Grand Jury prize at Sundance as well as the Caméra d’Or award at Cannes 2012. The film was released by Fox Searchlight on June 27, 2012.


Steve Zeitlin is the founding director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of New York City’s — and America’s —living cultural heritage. City Lore works closely with New York’s diverse communities to develop strategies for validating and disseminating their cultural heritages. In 2007, he received the Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society for lifetime achievement in public folklore. In 2010, he was awarded an Archie Green fellowship from the Library of Congress. Steve Zeitlin has served as a regular commentator for a number of nationally syndicated public radio shows, and his commentaries have appeared on the Op Ed pages of The New York Times and Newsday. Prior to arriving in New York, Steve Zeitlin served for eight years as a folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and has taught at George Washington, American University, NYU, and Cooper Union. He is coauthor of a number of award winning books on America’s folk culture including A Celebration of American Family Folklore (Pantheon Books, 1982); The Grand Generation: Memory Mastery and Legacy (U. of Washington Press, l987); City Play (Rutgers University Press, l990); Because God Loves Stories: An Anthology of Jewish Storytelling (Simon & Schuster, 1997); Giving a Voice to Sorrow: Personal Responses to Death and Mourning (Penguin-Putnam, 2001), and Hidden New York: A Guide to Places that Matter (Rutgers U. Press, October, 2006).


Read more responses to Beasts of the Southern Wild:

Dudley Cocke, The Art of The Rural

Jarvis DeBerry, Colorlines

bell hooks, NewBlackMan (in Exile)

Carrie Leilam Love, The Rumpus

Silpa Kovvali, The Atlantic

Organizer: A/P/A Institute at NYU
Venue: New York University, 721 Broadway
12th floor, Dean’s Conference room
New York, NY 10003 United States
Get Directions
Add to Calendar 10/06/2012 12:45 PM 10/06/2012 02:30 PM America/New_York Beasts of the ‘Northern’ Wild: Why Benh Zeitlin’s Indie Film is So Important More detail: https://apa.nyu.edu/event/beasts-of-the-northern-wild-why-benh-zeitlins-indie-film-is-so-important/ New York University, 721 Broadway, New York, NY, 10003