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USA, 1990 (MIFF 1990, Documentaries)

Director: Dale Ann Stieber

Maverick: 1. An unbranded animal: esp: a motherless calf. 2. An independent individual who refuses to conform with his group. - Webster's Dictionary

Upon receiving the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 1975, Orson Welles accepted it on behalf of all the "maverick" filmmakers who, like himself, did not always fit comfortably within the Hollywood system: "What we do come up with has no special right to call itself better, it's just different."

The definitions of what it means to be a maverick in the American film industry have evolved over the decades; but regardless of the era, a great many of the most original, innovative, exciting and influential films have come from directors who have produced their own work regardless of the pressures of the marketplace.

This feature-length documentary examines cutting-edge American filmmaking from Erich von Stroheim to David Lynch using first hand testimony of the artists themselves. Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader, all directors with keen perceptions of film history, aesthetics and the realities of the industry, explore the triumphs and vicissitudes of Hollywood's rebels and iconoclasts. Using both original filmed material, exceedingly rare interview footage, and drawing from interviews done over twenty years, the film shows how King Vidor persuaded MGM to make the all black early sound musical Hallelujah!, how Orson Welles pieced together Othello over three years in between acting assignments; how Samuel Fuller pushed his bold ideas through on low-budget films; how John Cassavetes survived in Hollywood without succumbing to the studio's power; and how such filmmakers as Coppola, Hopper, Scorsese, Bogdanovich, Schrader, Rudolph and Lynch have, with varying degrees of success, co-existed with the system while still trying to maintain their independence and distinctive voices.

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