The award presentation was followed by a special 20th anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused.
Richard Linklater, born in Houston and raised in nearby Huntsville, has been a supporter of the HCAF since its inception. He attended the festival in 2009 with Me and Orson Welles and brought his friend Ethan Hawke to join him in presenting Tape in 2011. He will receive the Levantine Award amidst a career renaissance with the 2013 release of one of his finest and most popular films, Before Midnight, following 2012’s equally well-received Bernie.
Included in Quentin Tarantino’s list of the 10 greatest films of all time, Richard Linklater’s cult classic has become part of the lexicon of film history and thus required viewing for aspiring filmmakers (and stoners). On its twentieth anniversary, Linklater told The Daily Beast what inspired his unique take on the teen movie genre: “I wanted to capture the feeling of driving around, trying to be cool. It was tone and atmosphere. That’s what was churning around inside me. The mooood.”
Set on the last day of school at Lee High School in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, the film follows the activities of a group of students as they celebrate the arrival of summer. When classes end, the incoming freshman boys are hunted down and hazed by the senior boys while the incoming freshman girls are rounded up and suffer the same fate at the hand of the senior girls. Randall “Pink” Floyd, the school’s star football player, is asked to sign a pledge promising not to take drugs during the summer or do anything that would “jeopardize the goal of a championship season”. Eventually, the students’ various paths lead to an awesome keg party at the Moontower.
Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film as “art crossed with anthropology” with a “painful underside”. In her review for The Austin Chronicle, Marjorie Baumgarten praised Matthew McConaughey’s film debut stating, “He is a character we’re all too familiar with in the movies but McConaughey nails this guy without a hint of condescension or whimsy, claiming this character for all time as his own”.