“Wendy” Turns “Peter Pan” Inside Out

Director Benh Zeitlin took 8 years to make another film after his critically-acclaimed first feature, Beasts of the Southern Wild. You’d think that a man who won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and received 4 Oscar nominations, then landed a first-look deal with Fox Searchlight would have cranked out a new movie within a few short years. But Zeitlin took his time to develop a project near and dear to his heart, a reimagining of the classic children’s tale Peter Pan, but told from Wendy’s perspective.

In addition to his long development process, Zeitlin worked with the same directorial approach as his last film, and used unprofessional child actors and real locations, in this case a Caribbean island with a live volcano. It was an intense, grueling shoot that took two months. He turns the wild nature of the place into a separate character, terrain that informs the children’s own wild behavior, which is as much a part of the landscape as the volcano and capable of the same explosive intensity.

Ben Zeitlin, director of "Wendy"
Director Ben Zeitlin

Zeitlin’s magical-realist style is on full display with Wendy, for which he creates an adult-free utopia where anything can happen. But the biggest change comes through the depiction of his determined protagonist, as Wendy is a girl with real agency who takes charge of the story’s direction.

Don’t miss this special advance screening of Wendy, only at the Grand lake Theatre in Oakland, Thursday February 20, shown with two short films, The Last Day of Autumn and We Are One. Buy your tickets here!