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Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, recipient of the inaugural Graham Leggat Award at the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 19 – May 3, 2012.

Benh Zeitlin, director of “the highly imaginative and much acclaimed independent narrative feature” Beasts of the Southern Wild, will be the recipient of the inaugural Graham Leggat Award at the 55th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19 – May 3).

Zeitlin is a director, animator, composer and a founding member of Court 13. He lives in New Orleans where dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and a 350-pound swine run wild in his home. Director of award-winning shorts Egg, Origins of Electricity, I Get Wet and Glory at Sea, he was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Zeitlin participated in Sundance Labs and won the NHK International Filmmakers Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival with his film Beasts of the Southern Wild, and in 2010 and 2011 he was awarded SFFS/Kenneth Rainin Foundation Filmmaking Grants for postproduction.

Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance 2012 and will be released June 27 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. The film centers upon a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee where a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

Beasts of the Southern Wild will make its international debut next month at the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.

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