Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and others sound off at Austin's SXSW

Quentin Tarantino
Credit: Tarantino: Stephen MacMillian Moser

Could the Old West be the next New Hollywood hot spot? It certainly looked that way as Austin’s recent South by Southwest film festival drew an impressive group of maverick directors, including the Texas bred Richard Linklater (”Dazed and Confused”), Robert Rodriguez (”Desperado”), Mike Judge (”Office Space”), and Tobe Hooper (”The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”) — along with honorary Texan Quentin Tarantino. Even the notoriously reclusive Terrence Malick, who retreated to Austin during the two decade gap separating ”Days of Heaven” and ”The Thin Red Line,” turned out to honor his ”Badlands” baton twirler Sissy Spacek, who was inducted to the Texas Film Hall of Fame.

During a busy week of screenings and panels, Linklater unveiled his Austin born ”Waking Life” for hometown crowds. Featuring a cutting edge process in which artists ”painted” over Linklater’s digitial video footage, ”Waking Life” transforms a series of mundane meaning of life sessions with local personalities into an imaginative pop philosophy ”Fantasia.” Though Linklater is still looking for a distributor for ”Waking Life,” audiences will get a chance to see his other new film, a micro- budget exercise in guerrilla realism shot over six days and starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, when Lions Gate releases ”Tape” this fall.

Tarantino, who has nearly finished the script to his new movie, tentatively titled ”Kill Bill,” told EW.com over a heaping plate of barbeque ribs that he was glad to be getting his fingers greasy again in his ”hometown away from hometowns.” He hosts a film festival of his own in Austin every year (featuring movies like ”Revenge of the Cheerleaders” and ”Shoot First, Die Later” from his private collection) and said he plans to return to shoot parts of ”Kill Bill,” a female revenge tale crafted expressly for Uma Thurman. Unfortunately, locals may still have a while to wait before Tarantino makes good on his promise. The trigger happy director doesn’t plan to start shooting until strike threats cool down.