For ten years the Austin Film Society's Texas Film Hall of Fame has handed out awards to the state's own--and deserving outsiders like Quentin Tarantino, who after 17 years of premiering his films and doing his QT Fests in Austin, was inducted by best buds Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez, who gave him a cowboy hat. (His speech is below.) "I start relaxing tomorrow," he said. Another refugee from the exhausting Oscar race was Jason Reitman, who on a whim took off in his car to decompress and wound up here to watch some movies (he's shown his shorts here in the past) before heading home to rework the first draft of his new screenplay.
Piggybacking on the giant SXSW, which opens Friday with Kick-Ass, the Hall of Fame is a chance for the local community to party and raise funds. Austin Society executive director Rebecca Campbell estimates that the event, hosted by the genial Thomas Hayden Church, netted about $300,000. Over nine years they have raised $2.5 million to benefit local filmmakers with outreach and education, plus exhibition programs.
I loved the way Linklater lauded Tarantino's breadth of knowledge and generosity, for not accepting conventional wisdom about who's in the canon. What about these people over here? Tarantino is always himself, reinventing storytelling and genre definitions, Linklater said, and bravely so. Everyone else has to adapt to him. Roller Girl Punky Bruiser also presented to Tarantino. "He's unpretentious, genuine and super nice even though he's from Hollywood," she said.
Okie Edward Ruscha presented an award to Texan Michael Nesmith, whose mother invented liquid paper, which Ruscha uses in his painting. Nesmith not only joined the Monkees but produced such movies as Repo Man and made music videos. Nesmith gave an elegant speech.
Honoree Lukas Haas has been in 40 movies since Testament, from Witness to Brick. Catherine 0'Hara accepted the award for Waiting for Guffman, "a sad and hopeless tale about pathetic people going nowhere shot in Lockhart, Texas." Character actor Bruce McGill was born in a hospital overlooking the Alamo and earned a BFA in acting from the University of Texas. He had to leave Austin to find work, he said. Thanks to the efforts of SXSW and Austin Film Society co-founder Louis Black, Rodriguez, Linklater and their studios, and the booming local filmmaking community, that is no longer true.