Longtime SXSW favorite, and Canadian documentary legend, Ron Mann will open his latest work in theaters nationwide this month (including the Alamo in Austin). The film, Tales of the Rat Fink, premiered at SXSW 2006 (plus, just screened at the Toronto Film Festival) and chronicles the life and legacy of car designer and comic artist Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. The film is a highly entertaining and fun look not only at car culture, but at the changing tastes of post-WWII America. Marc Savlov chats with Mann for the Austin Chronicle:
Austin Chronicle: And remarkably, Roth is just as influential today as he was in the Fifties and Sixties.
Ron Mann: Oh, yeah. He totally influenced the underground artists like Robert Williams and those cats. In his later years, he wanted to distance himself from the more graphically vulgar aspects of the underground cartoonists, but I think he came around in the late Nineties when the custom-car-culture movement really started to pick up steam again. He was adopted by the punk rockers, too. He did a cover for a Nick Cave album.
Austin Chronicle: The Birthday Party’s Junkyard.
Ron Mann: Right. And Roth was the original punk rocker in a way, and that’s why I adore him. As an independent filmmaker, I see him as someone who just went out there and did it all himself. He wasn’t waiting for Detroit to call him up. He had his own ideas about what a car should be. To me, Roth was like Richard Linklater or Jim Jarmusch in the way he approached his art. Maybe Cassavettes, too.