“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!

The Power of Kids in “Microplastic Madness”

A perfect example of how young 21st century heroes epitomize the theme of this year’s BAICFF, The Power of Kids, is found in one of this year’s fantastic feature films, Microplastic Madness.

Microplastic Madness Trailer

5th grade students of Brooklyn’s PS 15 become “citizen scientists” in order to investigate the path that plastic takes from manufacture, through consumer use, to waste, whereupon it often ends up in our oceans. Once in the water, this trash breaks down into tiny particles called “microplastic,” which is regularly consumed by various sea creatures and can lead to their illness or death.

By collecting beach trash, interviewing researchers, and making their own measurements to produce data, these students learn about this global pollution crisis — and also discover how microplastic contamination is already inside our own bodies. Not content to merely understand the problem, the children go out into their community to take direct action. They encourage local residents to reduce their plastic use, testify at local government hearings, and provide a useful list of ways that we can all participate in creating a cleaner environment.

This film is an inspirational look at how direct action backed by science not only helps the planet’s health, but can also be fun. Don’t miss it!