WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Oscar-nominated film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" has gotten Michelle Obama's ringing endorsement.

The first lady played host Wednesday at a White House workshop for about 80 middle- and high-school students from the District of Columbia and New Orleans, where the movie was set. Students saw the film, then got to question cast members and the director.

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Mrs. Obama said she saw "Beasts" over the summer and considers it one of the most powerful and important movies released in a long time.

The film tells the mythical tale of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy struggling to survive in the southern Delta with her ailing father as a storm approaches. Her world consists of a small but tightly-knit shantytown community on the bayou with wild animals, both real and imagined.