Armed with a storytelling ability engendered by his folklorist parents and a wonderful visual sense, director Benh Zeitlin became interested in movies from an early age and set about creating a career for himself in the world of filmmaking. Learning the essentials through his work with the Court 13 collective of young film enthusiasts, Zeitlin further embellished his cinematic knowledge via courses offered by the Sundance Institute. His debut feature, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (2012), was hailed as one of the most astonishing, audacious and imaginative debut efforts in some time, presenting a compelling look at a group of impoverished, but proud and self-sufficient people doing what they have to in order to survive an increasingly inhospitable environment. In addition to its intoxicating use of Louisiana locations, Zeitlin made the intriguing creative choice to infuse the picture with elements of magic realism, making for a truly unique environment and feel. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" marked Zeitlin as one of the most promising figures in American independent filmmaking and his accomplishments on that grass roots production demonstrated that he possessed the degree of imagination and verve for more such enterprises in the future.