Waking Sleeping Beauty

September 5, 2009

By the mid-1980s, the fabled animation studios of Walt Disney had fallen on hard times. The artists were polarized between newcomers hungry to innovate and old timers not yet ready to relinquish control. These conditions produced a series of box-office flops and pessimistic forecasts: maybe the best days of animation were over. Maybe the public didn't care. Only a miracle or a magic spell could produce a happy ending. Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairy tale. It's the true story of how Disney regained its magic with a staggering output of hits - "Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast ," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," and more - over a 10-year period.

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. Eventually incorporating as a nonprofit, the newly branded Austin Film Society raised enough money to fly in their first out-of-town filmmaker: James Benning. Accepting the invitation, Benning met Linklater and the two began to develop a personal and intellectual bond, leading to many future encounters. Starting in the 1960s, Benning had been creating low budget films mostly on his own, while Linklater had just begun to craft his first shorts. The filmmakers have remained close even as their careers have diverged. After the cult success of Slacker, Linklater went on to make films with Hollywood support. Benning, meanwhile, has stayed close to his roots and is mainly an unknown figure in mainstream film culture.

JJA

July 6, 2012

An eighty-five year old man, isolated in his luxurious house, tells the story of his economic success and the reasons for his exile in Switzerland. The multiple disputes between him and his acquaintances, and his relations to the place he now inhabits shape his narrative, which unfolds in alternating from one day to another, from one place to the other of his residence.

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