SXSW FILM 2016
By Linc Leifeste | March 18, 2016
Directors: Louis Black, Karen Bernstein
I’ll admit that I attended a screening of Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival as much because it fit conveniently into my schedule that day as because I was eager to see a documentary on Linklater. That’s not to imply that I don’t respect or value Linklater, because I do, but his films are kind of hit and miss for me and rarely do they floor me. But this documentary by directors Louis Black and Karen Bernstein did just that, and in the process increased my admiration for its subject and left me wanting to revisit his films I’ve already seen and to finally watch the ones I haven’t.
More of a love letter to Linklater and his body of work than a critical examination of his career, there is no remove between filmmakers and subject here. These are friends and peers of Linklater lovingly and nostalgically praising his accomplishments as both a filmmaker and a champion of Austin, TX. In the process, what came through to this viewer was a better recognition of just how much heart and soul, and maybe more importantly, hard work, Linklater has put into both crafting his films and into building a remarkably vibrant film scene in Austin.
Having the look and feel in some ways of a Linklater film, the doc traces Linklater’s life and career from Slacker up through Everybody Wants Some!!, featuring a brilliant selection of film clips from Linklater’s filmography as well as interview footage with Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Patricia Arquette, Matthew McConaughey and others. Additionally, there is stellar footage of Louis Black sitting and interviewing Linklater while they rummage through boxes of his early career memorabilia, including journals, scripts, handbills and more.
The point at which I knew the film had hooked me was in its buildup to Boyhood being beat out at last year’s Academy Awards by Birdman. For someone like me, on whom Boyhood fell somewhat flat as a film, despite my great respect for Linklater’s vision in making the film, the fact that I felt an actual, strong sense of disappointment as they announced Iñárritu instead of Linklater, shows just how effective this documentary is in highlighting the many virtues and accomplishments, and the heart and soul, of Richard Linklater. Highly recommended.