It’s been a question many of us in the indie world have been asking for a couple years now: Where in the world is Benh Zeitlin? The filmmaker had one of the most breakthrough years ever in 2012 when his “Beasts of the Southern Wild” exploded from Sundance winner to four-time Oscar nominee. Zeitlin even knocked out Ben Affleck (“Argo”) to earn a Best Director nomination.
But in the five years since the success of “Beasts,” Zeitlin has remained all but off the grid. It was reported back in 2015 that he was finally getting the wheels going on his next feature, “Wendy,” but here we are two years later with nothing to show for it. Well, it appears the 34-year-old indie director is finally back behind the camera and shooting that project, albeit very quietly.
The Playlist recently found the Instagram account of Erika Sanz, who has previously worked on indies like Sundance premiere “Sidney Hall.” Sanz has been posting a series of set pictures from the Caribbean island Montserrat and confirmed in one photo that the project was in fact Zeitlin’s “Wendy.” Sanz has tagged cinematographer and producer Shabier Kirchner in certain photos, and his profile reveals even more images from the Montserrat set, as well as Antigua. The two’s official titles on the film haven’t been confirmed, but they’re clearly involved with production.
The islands of Montserrat and Antigua would make sense for the setting of “Wendy.” The plot follows a young girl who is kidnapped and taken to a destructive ecosystem where mystical pollen breaks the relationship between aging and time. There’s also the fact that the Antigua Observer posted a casting call for child actors to star in the film back in 2015, which indicated it would probably be shooting there or at least in the region. Montserrat is a smaller island located just south of Antigua.
Zeitlin elaborated on the story in a 2013 New York Times Profile. “It follows a friendship-love story-adventure of her and a joyous, reckless, pleasure-mongering young boy as they swirl in and out of youth and as the ecosystem around them spirals toward destruction. We’re working on it all day every day, but as all psychotic adventures go, you know where your destination is but not how long it’s going to take to get there.”
The answer is apparently very long to get there, but fans of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” should take comfort knowing that “Wendy” is finally in production. Check out some of the set photos below.