Deauville 2012: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'Una Noche' Win Top Prizes

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Benh Zeitlin's debut film won the France festival's Grand Prize, while Lucy Mulloy's day-in-the-life Cuban drama took home the Jury Prize.

Audience reaction is not always the best gauge of a film’s performance at a festival. Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America was a crowd favorite at Deauville, though the comedian would walk away empty-handed when awards were distributed on Saturday night. But buzz can also predict gold. Benh Zeitlin’s debut feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild, packed Deauville houses twice and racked up praise from fellow entrants and jury members during pre-ceremony red carpet chat. So when the $1.8 million indie won both the Cartier Revelation Award and the festival’s Grand Prize, no one except Zeitlin was terribly surprised. “I’ve shown this film all over the world now,” he said, accepting the top honors. “It’s incredible to be so far from home, and yet feel like people understand what I’m saying. All the actors back in New Orleans may still have their power out from Hurricane Isaac, so when their lights come back on and their internet works again, they’re going to be excited.”

Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, a day-in-the-life drama about two Cuban teens trying to flee for Miami, took home the Jury Prize. Considering how well her first feature performed at Tribeca, where it won Best Director, Cinematography, and Best Actor awards, Mulloy was taken so aback by the Deauville win that she forgot to prepare a speech. “This is an amazing festival,” said the 33-year-old as she cradled her statuette. “It’s so intimate, and as a filmmaker, you feel very supported.”

The first award to be announced that evening, the International Critics Prize, went to Michel Gondry’s Bronx-based The We and The I, which opened the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, and picked up North American distribution yesterday at Toronto, from Paladin and 108 Media. Gondry had already left for Toronto on Saturday, and was not present to accept his award.