This year, Austin and the 30th annual SXSW are celebrating homegrown filmmaker Richard Linklater with a premiere of his new film, a documentary about his work and even an art show.
Who Is Richard Linklater?
Texans know Richard Linklater for his 1991 non-narrative, “Slacker,” the legendary last-day-of-high-school film, “Dazed and Confused,” the dark comedy, “Bernie,” and critically-acclaimed, “Boyhood.”
Linklater’s love for Austin and rejection of Hollywood’s creative control kept him in Central Texas, where he founded Austin Film Society and never stopped taking artistic risks. From experimenting with rotoscoping in “A Scanner Darkly” to focusing on an intense connection between two people in the dialogue-driven “Before” trilogy, Linklater independently makes the films he wants to make.
With a fascinating career spanning two decades, it’s no wonder he is the focus of a new documentary premiering at SXSW, “Richard Linklater – dream is destiny.”
Linklater Documentary Premiere
“Richard Linklater – dream is destiny” marks the directorial debut of Louis Black, whose resume includes co-founding “The Austin Chronicle” and SXSW, and serving as an original board member of Austin Film Society. I met with Black and co-director Karen Bernstein, an Emmy- and Grammy-winning producer, at “The Austin Chronicle” building to discuss their inspiring film.
The documentary’s mood was expertly crafted to feel like a Linklater film, imitating “Boyhood” the most, with chronological storytelling and deliberate respect of each character and moment.
“Boyhood” is a great example of Linklater’s fearless ambition, as it was filmed for 12 years with the same cast, following the actors as they aged on screen. Bernstein noted that Linklater “kept downplaying ‘Boyhood’ for years” while he was making the film. I asked Black what he thought of the time-lapse idea when he first heard about it: “I thought he would pull it off…everything I ever heard this guy say he was going to do, he did. So how could I not believe him?”
Black stated that Linklater’s greatest strength is his use of “autobiographical authenticity.” Though his work isn’t directly autobiographical, “by not concentrating on the spectacular, he tells everyone’s story.”
In order to tell Linklater’s own story, Bernstein knew they needed to figure out how to allow him to speak in a completely unscripted way. One intimate method was to watch Linklater go though some of his old notebooks that he kept in his early days of fantasizing about filmmaking. Black joins him in this scene on camera, and their friendship is evident: “He came up to me in 1985 during lunch, and we started talking about movies, and we’ve been continuing that conversation for 30 years.”
In “Richard Linklater – dream is destiny,” the diverse interviews with actors from Linklater’s films are very telling of the mutual respect found on his movie sets. Bernstein notes Julie Delpy’s interview as the most shaky, since she was rather nervous and concerned about getting her admiration for Linklater across successfully. Once the documentary was made, Bernstein was pleased to see that this interview in particular “came across beautifully on film.”
Bernstein and Black have constructed an inspiring and engrossing documentary that leaves viewers ready to start their own ambitious project. For filmmakers, Austin is a wonderful place to feel this creative pull.
Once Bernstein had lived in Austin for a while, she felt a “seismic change…everything clicked into place here,” while Black continues to love the “remarkable creative community that’s growing in quality.” He says, “There’s a certain sense of social mission–that [creating] is good for the communit–and hopefully we’re a part of that.”
Linklater Film Posters at Mondo Gallery
During SXSW, Mondo Gallery (4115 Guadalupe St.) will host “No Longer / Not Yet: A Tribute to Richard Linklater.” This exhibition features silk-screened posters inspired by Linklater’s films.
Co-founder and Creative Director Mitch Putnam told me Mondo Gallery carefully chose the participating artists and asked them to conceptualize a moment or theme from their assigned film that was not featured in the original film poster. “For instance,” Putnam explained, “the original ‘Dazed and Confused’ posters really accentuate the hippie angle, but that film is full of heartwarming moments about aging, insecurity and finding your place in the world. The artists we work with naturally gravitated to those moments, showing a side of the film that hasn’t been shown as often.”
“No Longer / Not Yet: A Tribute to Richard Linklater” begins with an open reception on March 12, 2016 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. where local artists Kevin Tong, Mishka Westell and Jay Shaw will be in attendance. The show will remain open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. until March 15.
“Everybody Wants Some”
Linklater’s latest film, “Everybody Wants Some,” premieres on March 11 at The Paramount, complete with a red carpet event on SXSW’s opening night. Additional screenings take place on March 12 at Marchesa and on March 18 at Topfer Theatre at Zach.
Due to the high demand for attending these screenings, Austinites will most likely have to wait until April for a wide release of this “spiritual sequel” to “Dazed and Confused.” For now, check out the trailer for the film that follows a college freshman in the 80s though his escapades with new friends, college baseball and freedom.
@MadameKLM wants to know:
Which Richard Linklater film is your favorite?