“Wendy,” Benh Zeitlin’s riff on the iconic Peter Pan tale, was something he dreamed about making his entire life.
“Me and my sister Eliza, who I wrote the film with, really dreamed about making this film our entire lives, and it evolved as we grew up,” Zeitlin told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at the Sundance Film Festival. “I think that when we looked back at all of our games we played as children, where you were in a world and when you became 13 you were out — you were kicked out of it. In our childhood world, you know, we looked at adults and we just thought, how could that happen to us? What are we gonna lose that’s going turn us into who we are now, which is wild and free and imaginative and what’s gonna turn us into people that we don’t recognize? People who are destroying the planet, who don’t care. The things that adults do that children would never do. It terrified us.”
“Wendy” stars Devin France as Wendy and Yashua Mack as Peter, and follows Wendy as she’s kidnapped and taken from her home to an island where mysterious pollen has disrupted age and time.
This is France’s first acting role, and she said she had to beg her parents to take her to the audition for the film.
“In second grade, [co-producer] Nathan Harrison came to our school and he gave us a little presentation about the movie and he said that they wanted some kid actors for the movie,” she said. “Me wanting to do with this for so long, I ran home and I was like, ‘hey, you guys gotta take me to this, okay? My opportunity, alright?’ And so my parents had taken me to the audition and it was really fun. I don’t think I met Benh the first audition… I kept getting called back and called back until eventually I was cast as Wendy from this big bossman right here.”
Zeitlin added: “We did this grassroots casting all over Louisiana — I live in New Orleans so we just went into New Orleans and the surrounding towns just going into schools, putting out casting calls and community centers and trying to find kids who had never had an opportunity to act or wouldn’t necessarily imagine ever doing that and we auditioned people in a way that kind of anybody can walk in and try out for the film.”
“Wendy” had its debut at Sundance and will hit theaters on Feb. 28.
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