Park City » When you’re a kid, notes filmmaker David Zellner, “you have a certain kind of logic for how you handle problems, because you’re so new to this world. You’re being a little scientist, pushing buttons and seeing what directions it goes.”
And when you don’t have any parental supervision — like the main character, a 10-year-old Texas girl named Annie, in Zellner’s drama “Kid-Thing” — it’s that much harder.
Lessons in effective parenting have been few and far between in the movies in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Besides “Kid-Thing,” movies at the festival have shown us:
• A Louisiana 6-year-old enduring her ailing father’s tough love in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
• A derelict father (Paul Dano) trying to connect with his estranged 8-year-old daughter in “For Ellen.”
• A single dad (Mark Webber) struggling to raise a toddler in “The End of Love.”
• An 11-year-old Baltimore kid (Michael Rainey Jr.) along for the ride as his uncle (Common) jumps back into his criminal life in “LUV.”
• Japanese teens dealing with big issues with hardly an adult in sight in “About the Pink Sky.”
There is a parent in “Kid-Thing,” but he’s mostly a nonentity — seen more often sleeping off a bender. It’s never even clear if he’s Annie’s dad, or an uncle, or her absent mom’s old boyfriend.
The parental situation “would partly explain why she is how she is,” said Zellner’s brother, Nathan, the movie’s cinematographer and producer. “She has this incredible freedom to do what she wants.”
That freedom comes at a price. “She doesn’t have anyone pointing her moral compass for her,” David Zellner said.
Hushpuppy, the Louisiana girl at the center of “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” doesn’t have that problem. She’s “a moral girl, who believes strongly in right and wrong,” said director Benh Zeitlin at a Q-and-A after a screening of his film.Next Page »