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10 Years of Mavericks

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It would be unwise to mistake Richard Linklater for the aimless youths he immortalized in 1991’s Slacker, nor the genial waste products rampaging cluelessly through 1993’s Dazed and Confused. True, his often plotless early films were poised to illustrate “the youth rebellion continuum,” a weighty explanation that might have been equal parts cineaste hubris and—well, talking out of his ass. But before we knew it, the Texas-born Linklater was a prominent director in the vanguard of indie film makers, thriving in the fertile soil of Austin’s artistic community. And lo and behold, two decades later, still-boyish at 49, Linklater is an elder lion of the film community.

He will be given The Woodstock Film Festival’s Maverick Award, not as a premature life achievement distinction for cult favorite Before Sunset (Oscar-nominated for best screenplay) or for the remake of Bad News Bears. The Maverick is meant to honor audacity, nerve, defiance. Linklater, 49, is gleefully guilty of all three transgressions. The cult classic Slacker was made for a mere $23,000, a rebuke to bloated Hollywood budgets. In A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, he revived animation rotoscoping to blur the distinction between reality and fever dream. In Fast Food Nation, he giddily cross-cut between brutal fact and fiction to declare the full-on dangers of factory farming and GMO devastation, as originally mapped out in Eric Schlosser’s book. (Linklater is a vegetarian.) And Sunset Strip networking be damned, he still lives in Texas.

Richard Linklater will be given the WFF’s Maverick Award on Saturday, October 3. He joins other film industry firebrands whose mission has been to make film an instrument of social change.

2008: Kevin Smith; 2007: Christine Vachon; 2006: Barbara Kopple; 2005: Steve Buscemi; 2004: Mira Nair; 2003: Woody Harrelson; 2002: Tim Robbins; 2001: D. A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus; 2000: Les Blank

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