When I got home from seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild, of course I immediately wanted to go online and find out how this film was made. Happily, I found this excellent interview by Maris James with director Benh Zeitlin that answered a lot of my questions. Among other things, he says that they originally had cast a Julliard-trained actor to play the father, but it wasn’t feeling intuitively right, and they ended up hiring the guy who ran the bakery where they bought their doughnuts every day. And when he picked the then-six-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis to play the lead, he sat down with her at the computer and went through Lucy Alibar’s script line by line, taking out anything that didn’t sound like something she would say.
And then there’s Maggie Jones’s fascinating story in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine about Postville, Iowa, which represents its own peculiar microcosm of the American economy and job market today. In the midst of the heartland, meatpacking plants depend on workers who will tolerate pretty horrible conditions for rock-bottom wages, which means a succession of legal, illegal and semi-legal immigrants and refugees from Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, Guatemala, Somalia, and Palau. This is not Mayberry, RFD.