AFS Film Series: Jewels of the Wasteland

During the fall and winter months of 2017, Richard Linklater will once again host his iconic film series JEWELS IN THE WASTELAND. Like the previous two series, these films will focus on the forgotten gems, the jewels, in the wasteland known as the 80s moviemaking environment. Until recently I was not aware of this series, and I feel that I missed an ingenious education. I’m very happy I have been able to rectify this blunder, and will take full advantage of attending the upcoming series.

These films will focus on the later third of the 80s, from 1987 to 1989, and while some are ones I have heard of, none are ones I have seen. The ones that will be screened in October are:

Matt Dillon in  Drugstore Cowboy

Matt Dillon in Drugstore Cowboy






To find out more, please head to the AFS series page.

It presents an interesting opportunity to not only see films I haven’t seen before, but to be a part of an active discussion of the films before and after. That’s one of the things that this film series thrives on, it will tap into the film school screenings of yesteryears. As a film scholar/fan/graduate, this kind of film environment is relished. There is nothing like having an open creative conversation about film. Some may call it pretentious, but it gets me excited.

Film is a medium that sparks a variety of emotions and thoughts within each audience member, and more often than not they are completely independent than the ones of the person sitting next to them. Even though our experiences may lead to a varied outcome after we watch a film, we can all agree that the sheer creation of these art forms struck a cord within. Through these vastly different experiences, we can come together to forge a new path through life, and hopefully learn something new about humanity as we do it.

Let’s not forget that the movies chosen for this round of JEWELS OF THE WASTELAND were hand picked (as always) by Linklater himself. Each one served a different purpose, so to speak, and impacted not only his life at that time but also his future filmmaking self. He has purposely chosen these films to revisit and examine what was so meaningful to him almost 30 years ago. That is a dangerous game, as most of the time the films of our youth do not hold up to our standards, but that’s why the conversation allotted for at the end will be so important. It’s a critical reconsideration through a more mature and cultivated mind.

Roddy Pipper in  They Live

Roddy Pipper in They Live

Even though these films all have a special place in Linklater’s heart, the one he expressed most interest in was John Huston’s last film, THE DEAD (which will be screened on December 6th). Linklater is curious to revisit because not only is this “Huston’s own cap to his career,” as he put it, but he’s curious if the beauty he felt while watching the film originally would have grown or changed as Huston’s own legacy has grown throughout the years, which fits in perfectly with what I’m trying to do with my Film Quest each year. 

For the last two years, I have challenged myself to watch 100 movies (and binge worthy shows) that I have not seen, be it new or old. It’s a way to finally watch the classics I’ve missed (the element I refer to as being a ‘bad film student’) and urge me to actually go out and experience the prized theater experience.

The best part about revisiting films is trying to force yourself to view it in the context in which it was originally made. It’s a challenge as a film scholar and as a humanitarian, as so much has changed in our society in the last 50 years. The question still remains, though, do you judge a film less strict because the time was different, or are ‘great’ films supposed to conquer all timelines?

Whatever my quest holds for me is still up in the air, but I’m excited to share the experience with Linklater, a fellow film fan, as I incorporate this series into my own. It’s also interesting seeing the films that influenced the film career of someone who I have always looked up to.  It’s once again a brilliant example of how film can connect us, even if there is a wide canyon of separation between two people. For several hours, as we sit in a darkened theater, engrossed in a sensory overabundance of creativity, we are as one.

JEWELS IN THE WASTELAND begins on October 4th and 11th, 2017 at 7:30pm with DRUGSTORE COWBOY at the AFS Cinema. For more information, please head to the AFS event page.