Hushpuppy celebrates the 4th of July in the movie “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Quvenzhane Wallis plays Hushpuppy and is the youngest actor nominated for an Academy Award. [Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight]

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, best actress, best director and best adapted screenplay.

A free screening of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will be at 7 p.m., Thursday at Star Hall. The free screening is made available through the Utah Film Circuit: Moab, an initiative of the Grand County Public Library and the Utah Film Center. The monthly screening series feature the best dramatic and documentary films from around the world.

“Our mission is to bring films to the Moab community that are thought-provoking, inspiring and unusual, maybe not part of the mainstream,” said Jessie Magleby from the Grand County Public Library. “A strange and beautiful film, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ feels true in spite of (and perhaps because of) the magical realism in this little six-year-old girl’s world. Some of the themes and archetypes may be recognizable but the meanings are ambiguous and enigmatic, just like real life.”

The story focuses on Hushpuppy, a six-year-old girl living in a bayou community she calls The Bathtub.

Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions.

Producers for the movie canvassed the New Orleans area with casting flyers advertising an open call for young girls between the ages of six and nine.

Quvenzhane Wallis, the youngest actor to be nominated for an academy award, was only five years old when she auditioned for the role.

Benh Zeitlin, one of the screenwriters, said he knew he found his heroine when she refused to follow an order to throw a stuffed animal at one of the producers reading lines with her.

“She was being defiant, but she was defiant on the grounds of sweetness and on the grounds of right and wrong. And that’s who Hushpuppy is,” Zeitlin said.

The character is based on Lucy Alibar’s one-act play “Juicy and Delicious”. She and Zeitlin met at playwright camp as teenagers and developed a lifelong friendship. The two wrote the screenplay for the movie together and are nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

“I’m just telling a story. It is about a little girl and her father. I just want people to engage,” Alibar said. “Because everybody has a dad, and everybody loses that dad, on some level.”