The second floor of Andaz Fifth Avenue was the hot spot to be for Fox Searchlight’s annual holiday party last week. They had a lot to celebrate; that morning Fox Searchlight films received nine Independent Spirit nominations, more than any other studio.
Filmmakers and actors from their hit movies were there, including star and director Benh Zeitlin of Beasts of the Southern Wild, with The Sessions director, Ben Lewin; Hitchcock director Sacha Gervasi, in a leather jacket looking like a rocker; actor Michael Stuhlbarg; and John Madden, director of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with screenwriter Ol Parker.
Quvenzhané Wallis was a mere five years old when she auditioned for the role of Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. She beat out nearly 4,000 girls for the part. The director told me when he found his star, the movie took a more serious and nuanced direction.
The petite star, now nine years old, arrived fashionably late and received congrats from admiring fans for her Independent Spirit nomination for best female lead. The actress twirled around in her glittery silver dress chosen by her mother and chaperone, Qulyndreia Wallis, who is also her daughter’s stylist.
Quvenzhané has already landed another part, in Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave, which is being shot in Louisiana, where the actress lives. The film stars Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, not too shabby as co-stars, considering Beasts is comprised entirely of non-actors.
Our favorite moment at the party was when Zeitlin raced over to embrace his star. Zeitlin is still dreaming up ideas for his next film, but he told me at the Gotham Awards that he’d like to work with the same cast, especially his Beasts charismatic young star, who is now on the Oscar short list.
All photos property of Brad Balfour. Please do not use without permission.