_THE S.U.R.G.E.! FILM FESTIVAL
Lifetime Achievement Awards
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This is The Full Lifetime Achievement Award Biography for Richard Linklater.
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SURGE Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
Full Biography Self-taught writer/director Richard Linklater was among the first and most successful talents to emerge during the American independent film renaissance of the 1990s. Typically setting each of his movies during one 24-hour period, Linklater's work explored what he dubbed "the youth rebellion continuum," focusing in fine detail on generational rites and mores with rare compassion and understanding while definitively capturing the twenty-something culture of his era through a series of nuanced, illuminating ensemble pieces which introduced any number of talented young actors into the Hollywood firmament.
Born in Houston, TX, in 1960, Linklater suspended his educational career at Sam Houston State University to work on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He subsequently relocated to the state's capital of Austin, where he founded a film society and began work on his debut short film, 1987's It's Impossible to Learn to Plow by Reading Books. Three years later he released the seminal film and cult classic, 'SLACKER'. The film was shot with a 16 mm camera on location in Austin, Texas with a budget of a mere $23,000, and premiered at Austin's Dobie Theater on July 27, 1990.
In his review for The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "Slacker is a 14-course meal composed entirely of desserts or, more accurately, a conventional film whose narrative has been thrown out and replaced by enough bits of local color to stock five years' worth of ordinary movies". Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A-" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "Slacker has a marvelously low-key observational cool ... the movie never loses its affectionate, shaggy-dog sense of America as a place in which people, by now, have almost too much freedom on their hands".[reference] In his review for the Washington Post, Hal Hinson wrote, "This is a work of scatterbrained originality, funny, unexpected and ceaselessly engaging". Rolling Stone magazine's Peter Travers wrote, "What Linklater has captured is a generation of bristling minds unable to turn their thoughts into action. Linklater has the gift of a true satirist: He can make laughter catch in the throat".[reference]
Landing with Universal, Linklater next filmed 1993's DAZED AND CONFUSED, a generational update of George Lucas' American Graffiti set during the last day of high school in 1976. Despite massive studio interference, the movie maintained Linklater's unique sensibilities while also proving his ability to work within the confines of more mainstream narrative structures, and went on to become a critical success as well as a cult favorite. Switching gears, the director traveled to Vienna, Austria, to film 1995's Before Sunrise, a sweet romantic comedy which bypassed the impressionistic textures of his previous work to place a new focus on character development. After making a brief voice-over appearance in the animated hit BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA, Linklater next directed 1997's SUBURBIA, an adaptation of Eric Bogosian's play of the same name.
Linklater's first foray into major-studio filmmaking, THE NEWTON BOYS, followed a year later. The true-life, Bonnie and Clyde-esque tale of a group of bank-robbing brothers, it shared little in common with the director's other films -- aside from the casting of Linklater pals ETHAN HAWKE and MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY as angsty young Texans.
Recoiling from the Hollywood filmmaking community, Linklater struck out on his own with two micro-budgeted projects, shot on-the-quick in digital video. The first of these was the most ambitious: Waking Life followed a philosophical, non-narrative structure similar to Slacker, but with all of its characters and conversations enhanced in post-production using an innovative, "rotoscoped" computer animation technique. The other film, Tape, was a spur-of-the-moment project based on a play brought to Linklater's attention by Hawke, who enlisted friend Robert Sean Leonard and then-wife Uma Thurman to co-star. Confining its action to one seedy hotel room, the film allowed Linklater the freedom to experiment with a variety of takes, angles, and points of view he might not have otherwise tried on a more expensive format.
Linklater found himself willing to give Hollywood another try in 2003 when presented with Mike White's script for SCHOOL OF ROCK, a fish-out-of-water comedy starring Jack Black as an unreliable, would-be substitute teacher who commandeers a class of sixth-graders. Reworking the script and putting his cast through extensive rehearsals, Linklater added an element of off-the-cuff realism to the formula tale. He followed up that success with BEFORE SUNSET, a sequel to Before Sunrise that reunited ETHAN HAWKE and JULIE DELPY. The film, full of motifs that have carried through all of Linklater's best work, earned him a flurry of critical praise and an Oscar nomination for screenwriting.
In 2006 Linklater had two films at the CANNES FILM FESTIVAL. His fictional adaptation of Eric Schlosser's non-fiction book FAST FOOD NATION competed in the main competition.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film FAST FOOD NATION, as one which does “not neglect the mute, helpless suffering of the cows, but it also acknowledges the status anxiety of the managerial class, the aspirations of the working poor (legal and otherwise) and the frustrations of the dreaming young. It's a mirror and a portrait, and a movie as necessary and nourishing as your next meal."[reference]
Wesley Morris, of the Boston Globe Staff describes Fast Food Nations in the following manner:
Richard Linklater's "Fast Food Nation" is major.It...could shame a Big Mac lover into having a salad. Yet while it feels like a call to arms, the movie's glamourless style and the conditions it describes are so stark you go home spent. That's an outcome more American directors should risk. Linklater has fashioned Eric Schlosser's exhaustive nonfiction bestseller about the bloody tentacles of the fast-food industry into a morality play about the vicious circle of consumption that puts the worker in the maw of the corporation...“both a work of investigative journalism and an immense human-interest story, veering into muckraking, horror, teen comedy, and what passes for "Twilight Zone" science fiction.”
The movie Slacker is said to marked the starting point (along with the earlier sex, lies, and videotape) for the independent film movement of the 1990s. Many of the independent filmmakers of that period credit the film with inspiring or opening doors for them, perhaps most famously Kevin Smith, who has said on numerous occasions that the film was the inspiration for Clerks. Slacker is to have popularized the use of the word "slacker" to describe "a person regarded as one of a large group or generation of young people (especially in the early to mid 1990s) characterized by apathy, aimlessness, and lack of ambition".[reference] Linklater, however, has said that he wanted the word to have positive connotations. For example, in a self-interview in the Austin Chronicle, Linklater stated:
“Slackers might look like the left-behinds of society, but they are actually one step ahead, rejecting most of society and the social hierarchy before it rejects them. The dictionary defines slackers as people who evade duties and responsibilities. A more modern notion would be people who are ultimately being responsible to themselves and not wasting their time in a realm of activity that has nothing to do with who they are or what they might be ultimately striving for.” [reference]
For all of Richard's visionary perspectives which encourage people of all generations not to waste...
“their time in a realm of activity that has nothing to do with who they are or what they might be ultimately striving for,”
...for all of Richard' s cross-genre creativity, risk taking innovation, for all of Richard's commitment to taking on social justice issues and speaking up for the working class, the confused anxiety of the managerial class, the dreams of the documented and undocumented financially disadvantaged social class and the young at heart, and for inspiring film societies such as the Austin Film Society that encourage people to raise their voice, the Sixth Annual International Social Uprising Resistance and Grassroots Encouragement festival is honored to award Richard Linklater with a Lifetime Achievement award in Austin, Texas on February 20th, 2011.
This award will be awarded at a private reception and streamed live via the Internet so that people of all social classes and backgrounds worldwide may have access to this historic moment honoring someone who has given so much to so many people around the world.
References: Many quotes from this article came from 'All Movie Guide', Wikipedia, New York Times and many other articles named throughout this article.
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