A documentary for the French series "Cinéma, de notre temps" ("Cinema of Our Times")
JAMES BENNING AND RICHARD LINKLATER
A FILM BY GABE KLINGER / PRODUCED BY ANDRÉ S. LABARTHE
Update May 28: USA TODAY has graciously featured us in their Pop Candy blog
Update May 24: We've been thoughtfully included in the Austin Chronicle's "Kickstart Your Weekend" series
Update May 20: Indiewire designates us PROJECT OF THE DAY
Filmmaker Magazine for including our project on your curated Kickstarter page
Criterion Collection for linking to us in Current
IN THE PRESS
Indiewire -- Project of the Day
USA TODAY -- Kickstart some art
Mubi -- Video of the Day
Austin Chronicle -- Kickstart Your Weekend...
A.V. Club -- Help sponsor a conversational documentary [...]
Filmmaker Magazine -- An in-depth essay by director Gabe Klinger on the shooting of the film
Update, May 17th ** NEW CLIP (1'52") ** Watch Linklater and Benning shoot hoops and talk about sports and art!
Update June 4 ** OUTTAKES (1'55") from the film:
In 1985, former oil rig worker Richard Linklater began a film screening society in Austin, Texas, that aimed to show classic art-house and experimental films to a budding community of cinephiles and filmmakers. Eventually incorporating as a nonprofit, the newly branded Austin Film Society raised enough money to fly in their first out-of-town invitee: Milwaukee native James Benning, visionary filmmaker, who was then based in New York.
Accepting the invitation, Benning met Linklater and immediately the two began to develop a personal and intellectual bond, leading to future screenings and encounters. Starting in the late ’60s, Benning had been creating structural non-narrative films largely on his own, while Linklater had just begun to craft his first 8 and 16mm shorts. The filmmakers have remained close even as their careers have wildly diverged. After the cult success of Slacker (1991), Linklater went on to make big budget narrative films with Hollywood support. Benning, meanwhile, has stayed close to his modest roots and is mainly an unknown figure in mainstream film culture.
Working with legendary producer André S. Labarthe — who co-created the long-running French television series “Cinéma, de notre temps” (“Cinema of Our Time”) — the critic, teacher, and curator Gabe Klinger set out to document the unique friendship of Benning and Linklater over the course of a few days in Austin and Bastrop, Texas, while the two filmmakers presented Benning’s films at the Austin Film Society, played baseball at Linklater’s home, visited old shooting locations, and talked about their respective filmmaking trajectories over long meals and hikes.
WHY BENNING AND LINKLATER?
Both filmmakers embody historical and contemporary notions of America, its follies and its splendors. Beyond surface differences, Benning and Linklater are similar in that their films demonstrate formal and thematic preoccupations with duration, the reconstruction of time and memory, mathematical structures, cinematic traditions, and the representation of history past and present, especially those of marginalized and under-represented peoples. Using American landscapes, cultural artifacts (music, artworks, etc.), and human figures, they are often working towards analogous ends. This is a thesis our film explores.
James Benning: "I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during World War II. I played baseball for the first 20 years of my life receiving a degree in mathematics while playing on a baseball scholarship. I dropped out of graduate school to deny my military deferment (my friends were dying in Viet Nam) and worked with migrant workers in Colorado teaching their children how to read and write. Later I helped start a commodities food program that fed the poor in the Missouri Ozarks. At the age of 33 I received an MFA from the University of Wisconsin. For the next four years I taught filmmaking at Northwestern University, University of Wisconsin, University of Oklahoma and the University of California San Diego. In 1980 I moved to lower Manhattan making films with the aid of grant and German Television money. After eight years in New York I moved to Val Verde, California, where I currently reside teaching film/video at California Institute of the Arts." - JB
Richard Linklater: "Born in Houston, Texas, he attended Huntsville High School and studied at Sam Houston State University, leaving midway through his stint in college to work on an off-shore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. While working on the rig he read a good many books, but on land he developed a love of film through repeated visits to a repertory theater in Houston. Linklater, using the money he had saved from the oil rig job, bought a Super-8 camera, a projector, and some editing equipment, and moved to Austin. It was there that the aspiring cineaste founded the Austin Film Society. From his commercial debut with Slacker, his diverse filmography includes the sci-fi noir A Scanner Darkly, the socially conscious Fast Food Nation, the kid-friendly School of Rock, the teen ensemble Dazed and Confused, the dark comedy Bernie, and the romance trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight, among many other films."
WHAT IS "CINÉMA, DE NOTRE TEMPS"?
In 1964, film critic and filmmaker André S. Labarthe, together with Janine Bazin, widow of influential film theorist André Bazin, approached the French television channel ORTF about starting a program that would resemble the long, in-depth interviews with film directors that magazines such as Cahiers du cinéma and Positif regularly published. ORTF gave the green light, and "Cinéastes, de notre temps" ("Filmmakers of Our Time") was born. Many of the programs were dedicated to older directors, who were then in retirement or in the final stages of their careers. Labarthe and Bazin would often ask well-known film directors, rather than television journalists, to make these programs: thus, Jacques Rivette on Jean Renoir, or Jacques Rozier on Jean Vigo.
"Cinéastes, de notre temps" lasted until 1971, when ORTF decided to terminate production. Over the following years, the series became almost legendary, as occasionally clips from the programs started to appear in other films. In 1988, ARTE, the French-German cultural channel, decided to reprise the series, now under the title "Cinéma, de notre temps." The focus shifted to contemporary filmmakers, and generally speaking directors were now more free to choose their own approaches. The films made for both series together form an invaluable and intimate history of the medium, full of insights into the work of individual filmmakers as well as a sense of the shifts in taste and ideas about cinema.
Though Janine Bazine has passed away, the series continues under Labarthe's leadership.
CURRENT PROJECT STATUS
We wrapped production on April 10 and have begun post-production (editing, color correction, sound mixing, etc.)
OUR FILM TEAM
Made with the generous cooperation of Austin Film Society and Detour Filmproduction.
Pictured (above) from left to right: Edward Crouse (still photographer), Gabe Klinger, Stephen MacDougall (first assistant cameraman), Taylor Thompson (digital intermediate technician), David Blue Garcia (camera operator), James Benning, Eduard Grau (cinematographer), Seana Flanagan (production coordinator), Andrew Segovia (production assistant), Berndt Mader (producer), Reed Smith (camera department), Justin Hennard (sound recordist and mixer)
OUR KICKSTARTER GOAL
To raise $25,000 in one month (gulp!)
WHAT YOUR DONATION WILL GO TOWARD
We depend on you to help us pay back our crew, equipment providers, and caterers. But most of all, we need to look ahead to our post-production expenses, such as editing, sound mix and color correction. These are highly specialized services, and the labor fees add up. The eventual sale of the film to French TV will cover a portion of our production cost, but not all of it. This is why we've opted to start this campaign.
Remember: Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising platform. There's no limit to the amount our project can receive, but if the "goal" amount is not met, our project receives ZERO funds.
SOME GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS (feel free to disregard if you've contributed to a Kickstarter before!)
1) Watch the above video;
2) take a look at our pledge levels and choose the one that best matches your desire to contribute;
3) follow the steps through Amazon to process your payment.
(Cards will not be charged until the campaign ends and not at all if the project doesn't meet its goal.)
WHEN WILL THE FINISHED FILM BE SHOWN?
We're optimistic that it will be ready to premiere at film festivals by late summer/early fall (2013).
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Well, we're halfway there, since the film has already been shot, but anyone involved in film production knows that post-production can take a long time and present lots of problems. Luckily there were no glitches in the elements that were delivered to me. And I am so fortunate to have wonderfully attentive producers arranging technicians to help me with all of the different finalization stages. The only challenge is to keep a steady flow of work in the coming months. - Gabe Klinger
See the pledge level right below the first $25 option. Donors outside of the U.S. get the same benefits, except the postcard will be emailed to them instead.