Just added to the official lineup of the January 2013 Sundance Film Festival is El Mariachi, the debut film by maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and his talented producer Elizabeth Avellán. This screening from the Sundance Film Collection follows on the heels of the festival's commemorative screening of Slacker in 2011.
Here in Austin, it's easy to grow blasé about the lasting importance of El Mariachi and Slacker – Richard Linklater's ensemble refraction of the cultural and artistic zeitgeist. As two of the fundamental building blocks of Austin's bustling, present-day filmmaking scene, it's become easy to take these achievements for granted.
Yes, the success of these two movies helped ignite a local boom in filmmaking, but they also have a significance that extends beyond our central Texas boundaries. Thus it's great when an institution such as the Sundance Film Festival – a well-known leader in the worldwide celebration and support of independent filmmaking – decides to honor El Mariachi and Slacker. Both films premiered at Sundance, and now belong to the preservation program of the Sundance Collection at UCLA. As part of this collection the films will be forever acknowledged in a manner that goes beyond mere boosterism or local legend as holding an important and irrevocable place in the history of American independent filmmaking.
We always knew that to be true here at the Chronicle, where we've been covering Rodriguez and Linklater from the dawn of their careers. This fall, on the occasion of the local celebration of El Mariachi's 20th anniversary, we published an interview with Rodriguez called, "A Career Hooligan Looks Back, But Mostly Forward." At the end of that story, there is a link to a pdf of the diary Rodriguez kept for us when he attended Sundance in 1993. That article, "Sundancing as Fast as I Can" became a foundation for Rodriguez's how-to book Rebel Without a Crew.
As for our coverage of Slacker, here are some links to some of our pieces over the years. On the film's 10th anniversary in 2001, I interviewed Linklater and his producer's rep, John Pierson, to get their perspective on the Slacker phenomenon in "Slack Where We Started." Ten years later, on the film's 20th anniversary, Marc Savlov reckoned with the moment in "Slack to the Future."
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