Saturday, May 17, 2014

SFIFF57: BOYHOOD (2014)—An Evening Class Question for Richard Linklater

One of the most enjoyable evenings I've spent at the cinema in years was "An Evening With Richard Linklater" at the 57th edition of the San Francisco International Film Festival where Linklater was awarded the San Francisco Film Society's Founder's Directing Award. This presentation was followed by a sweet, if somewhat rambling, conversation between Linklater and Parker Posey (that felt in itself like I was watching a Robert Altman film), followed by a screening of Boyhood (2014). Linklater, his actress / daughter Lorelei (who nicknamed the film Twelve Years A Slave), and producer Cathleen Sutherland fielded questions from the audience. I had the opportunity to ask Linklater the following.

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Michael Guillén: What strikes me as brilliant about your work, your craft, is your conception of the elasticity of time. You've experimented with that theme in ways I've not seen from other filmmakers. I'm curious how that thematic preoccupation developed in you? It's been evident since your earliest work. From where did this precoccupation with using cinema to represent the passage of time come?

Richard Linklater: I don't know. It wasn't thought out consciously like that. Pretty early on I just noticed that's what I was manipulating. That's how my brain worked. It's all storytelling; but, cinema is unique among the art forms in the way we do manipulate time. I always felt there was a lot of potential there to tell a story from a different way. I guess I spent my adult life thinking about that subject. An idea would pop into my head and I'd think, "Oh, I wonder if that could work? Why shouldn't that work?" I allowed myself to think that way.

The specific idea for the story of Boyhood came in response to problems I was trying to solve. I was trying to make a film about childhood but over the first couple of years I couldn't find the right spot. The idea I hadn't solved was how to express a lot of things from different stages of development.

Time is a fascinating subject. Tarkovsky's book Sculpting in Time is probably one of the most beautiful things you will ever read on that subject. He talks about that so much.


Chris Knipp said...

Thanks a lot for this and the question with Klapisch - just what I was hoping for. I missed these two at the SFIFF and can't wait to see both of them.

Michael Guillen said...

You're welcome, Chris. Please let me know what you think of both films when you have a chance to see them.