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ATL Preview: Narrative Shorts, Q&A with Glory At Sea

April 12, 2009


There are numerous great short films playing at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival but one of my favorites, Glory At Sea, seen at SXSW in 2008. Mourners build a boat to save their loved ones from the bottom of the sea, where many of the city residents ended after Katrina. Voiced by a child, the chilling and beautiful tale of hope and community rebuilt after such a loss is of epic proportions. A link is below, but see it on the big screen where the swelling images and music will move you deeply.

I first heard of director Benh Zeitlin in Austin last year where I met one of the people the day after they were involved in the car accident that nearly took Zeitlin’s life. The crew were en route to their SXSW premiere when involved in the crash that put Zeitlin in the hospital. The community responded overwhelmingly; Spout blog and others asked filmmakers to send Zeitlin their films as he missed the entire fest, Rooftop Films, the co-funder of the film, set up a web page requesting support for his medical bills. The larger film community also responded with numerous fundraisers set up including last year’s $5,000 fundraiser at the Walter Reade Theatre.

But, its now been well over a year since then and Zeitlin’s film continues on its fest trail – in competition at next week’s Atlanta Film Festival. I recently caught up with Zeitlin by e-mail and the Q&A is below:

OFF: In 10 words, describe your movie and why someone should see it.

BZ: NewOrleanians sail homemade raft to rescue lost loved ones below sea!

OFF: Biggest lesson learned in getting the film made?

BZ: To do anything in film, you have to have a basic disrespect for money.  You can’t love it, you can’t hate it, you most certainly can’t be afraid of it.  You just have to disrespect it on a fundamental level.  Its not sacred.  Its like a wrench.  You need one to make a movie, but you wouldn’t be like: ‘I’ve lost my wrench, time to stop shooting.”  The lesson was, if the idea is good- proceed forward, whatever the cost.  Money ain’t a thing.

OFF: What is the dream movie you haven’t yet made?

BZ: It takes place in 90 minutes of real time aboard a boat led by a maniac who has acquired all the ingredients for a new civilization but has gotten stranded in the middle of the Arctic ocean.  A monsterous childbirth,  divine interventions, continental mirages, and impossible romance are involved.

OFF: Can you tell me a little bit about how you developed the story of Glory At Sea?

BZ: Glory at sea was sparked by an image that popped into my head – of naked Greek men catapulting out of the ocean in a symphonic hairy porpoise-inspired resurrection finale that settled on an island paradise of obese naked love, which, of course, has almost nothing to do with the finished film.  I tried to make it in Greece, and when that fell apart, I had friends in New Orleans who invited me onto their couches, and this very distilled concept of an underwater resurrection started to click together with everything that was going on around me in NOLA.  The characters and stories in the movie were largely brought into the film by the people in the movie, who were all living in New Orleans at the time.

OFF: Although at SXSW last year you were in a terrible car accident and had to miss your premiere, your film had a great response and FIlmmaker listed you as the 25 new faces of independent film. What’s the future hold in store for Benh Zeitlin?

BZ: I’m working my way through the amazing Sundance Labs with my first feature – an epic comedy about a ferocious ten-year old girl who refuses to evacuate the crumbling grounds of the Louisiana delta without her dying father, leading a defiant coterie of abandoned souls down the path to heroism and ruin as the Southern Apocalypse descends on them.  Hoping to shoot in in the fall.

Check out Glory At Sea below:

Other shorts at Atlanta Film Fest are below:

Down & Out
First Kill
Last Bullet     (in competition)

Acting for the Camera
Captain Coulier (Space Explorer)
Don’t Mess With Texas
Hungry for Love     (in competition)
La Dinde Marinée
Shirtgun Guy

Between You and Me    (in competition)
Flying Lessons
Magellan     (in competition)
Miracle Fish    (in competition)
The Capgras Tide
Wheels   (in competition)

A Peacock-Feathered Blue
El ataque de los robots de nebulosa-5
Glory at Sea     (in competition)
Skylight     (in competition)
The Key

Get Happy
James     (in competition)
The Library
Twoyoungmen, UT.


Jerrycan     (in competition)
Love You More     (in competition)
On The Road to Tel-Aviv
Pelo Ouvido
Wasteland      (in competition)

Five Miles Out     (in competition)
Pop Art      (in competition)
The Big 1-0

I’m Like This Every Day
Love, Sadie
Maybe Me
Naming Pluto

Address to Silas on the Occasion of the Retreat at Los Angeles County   (in competition)
Dead Bunny     (in competition)
Don’t Walk Away In Silence     (in competition)
Happy Hour
He. She. It
Who’s Good Looking?

For the schedule, visit the Atlanta Film Fest.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 2:31 am

    that was a so amazing interview!

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