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Kevin Smith was supposed to be at SXSW last year to premiere the documentary Clerk, chronicling his career in film. The title of the doc may remind you of Smith’s debut film Clerks, as well it should. That film launched his career and went on to create a subculture for both filmmakers and movie fans. This year, Smith and Clerk director Malcolm Ingram are back, finally screening the flick at the 2021 virtual event.
Clerk is an examination and celebration of the life of Kevin Smith. The story of how one kid from Jersey completely transformed the cultural landscape. A journey which began 25 years ago at the Sundance Film festival where his DIY film Clerks, took the film world by storm. Leading to a career as a filmmaker, podcaster, stand-up comedian, author, comic book writer, television producer – a veritable pop culture icon with a very large and loyal fanbase.
This film industry star studded documentary will either rejuvenate your love of Kevin Smith or perhaps make you a first-time fan. Silent Bob is anything but silent in his interviews. Smith is honest and raw in telling the tales of his 30 year career in the industry. Stories are woven throughout the film as told by cast, crew, and family. Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Stan Lee are just a few big names sharing stories about Smith. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to watch (almost) every Kevin Smith film ever made (We’re looking at you Jersey Girl). Clerk is a story about an underdog who made his first movie with his friends and never stopped.
The Austin Effect:
Smith’s Austin ties are more deeply rooted than we knew. In 1990, Smith saw Richard Linklater’s film Slacker and his life was forever changed. Smith had always wanted to be a writer but after walking out of that film, he said things just clicked. He knew he wanted to apply his love for writing to his love of film. Smith and Linklater’s connection doesn’t stop there. After the success of Clerks, Smith went on to do Mallrats, which was picked up by the same studio, producer, and casting director as Dazed and Confused. Both films also happen to star Affleck. Coincidentally, both Dazed and Chasing Amy feature Joey Lauren Adams.
In 1997, both Linklater and Smith sat on a SXSW panel that included other big names in indie film like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge, Steve Soderbergh, and George Huang.
Linklater makes an appearance in the documentary, where he jokes about inspiring Smith to appear in his own movies (Linklater makes an on-screen appearance in Slacker). “At least I gave myself a three page monologue,” he said. “Kevin just had to stand around and be quiet all the time. Tough acting.”
Though you might not have had access to SXSW, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to watch Clerk right here in Austin. In a Q&A following the film screening, Smith said, “Austin stay weird but mark your calendars!” Clerk is set to go on tour this year, starting with the Paramount theater on November 3.
Smith and Ingram will both be in attendance – hopefully bringing with them more Austin related anecdotes. Who knows, maybe Linklater will take part too! Fingers crossed.