South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival – Kevin Smith is a darkly comedic, talented, altruistic director who created a universe that many film enthusiasts have subscribed to for nearly 30 years. Kevin Smith is the epitome of an indie director, making movies for himself that are “fucking weird” by his own account, and so rightfully, this writer and filmmaker is getting what he deserves — another documentary to allow his fans to get better acquainted with him and his films. Clerk, directed by Malcolm Ingram, will be screening in the “2020 Spotlight” category of SXSW Online 2021.
From video store clerk, to film school drop out, to one of the most visually and directorially recognizable directors of our time, Kevin Smith is due for a dedicated documentary that dives deeper than his Q&A documentaries and takes an in-depth look at his journey to directing. When Clerks premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival he is said to have “won over audiences”, and when it screened at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood not long after that, the film got sold, and the rest is history. However, Clerk doesn’t sugarcoat his story, having Kevin Smith explaining the emotional tolls that he was put through after the box office and critical failures that were Mallrats (1995) and Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008). Through the rises and the pit-falls, Kevin Smith stayed true to independent cinema, always putting out handmade “blue-collar” stories.
The film is a mix of one-on-one interviews with friends and fellow creators, musings from Kevin Smith himself, clips from his movies, and behind-the-scenes photos and videos of Kevin Smith on his way to becoming “Kevin Smith.” Of course, Smith’s collaborator, muse, and best friend, Jason Mewes, is given ample room to give commentary, as well as commentary from a previously recorded interview with the great and powerful Stan Lee, creator of Marvel comics who Kevin Smith made do his first cameo in Mallrats. “Kevin Smith is not only a great director, he is a humorist,” says Lee, high praise from one of his longtime idols. From Clerks, to Chasing Amy, to Dogma, to Red State, Kevin Smith is continually authentic in his voice and vision and is a true scholar and lover of cinema.
And not only a lover of cinema, but Kevin Smith has also always fostered a loving relationship with his fans, known for being one of the most accessible directors. Interacting with his fans while attending festivals, conventions, his podcast “Smodcast,” the infamous hours-long Q&A sessions, and commenting and responding to fans directly online are all calling cards of this director. For a time, Smith even helmed a reality TV show called Spoilers with Kevin Smith, a short-lived Hulu series where he would watch a movie with his fans and record their discussion of the film afterwards. An advocate for cinema and comic books alike, Kevin Smith is one of the coolest geeks that has ever lived, and as a fan, I hope he has more stories to tell in the future.
This is not an intentionally inspirational film, but Clerk is definitely inspirational, showing how just happening upon an interesting movie can change someone’s life. In Clerk, Kevin Smith explains that Richard Linklater’s Slacker (1990) inspired him to start making films of his own, and then not long after, award-winning director Jason Reitman credits Kevin Smith with being one of his inspirations to make a film. And so, Kevin Smith has certainly paid it forward, inspiring generations of writers and filmmakers and giving a voice to unique stories and underdog characters.
Clerk reviewed as part of our South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival coverage.
7.75 out of 10