I often go back and watch "Slacker" just for the unencumbered burst of independent creativity. It has a different spirit than the films that came after it, films like "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction," etc., that would define the indie film movement.

And Linklater has maintained that spirit, setting up shop in Austin, Texas long before it was the posh thing to do. Free of the Hollywood ties even if he mingled with them from time to time. So if ever there was someone fit for an independent film fete, he's the guy. And with "Before Midnight" on the circuit this season, the Independent Filmmaker Project has seized the opportunity to honor him with a Director Tribute at the 23rd Gotham Independent Film Awards.

"It is with great enthusiasm and pride that we give honor to a man who has played a significant role in expanding the language of film through the last 25 years," IFP executive director Joana Vicente said via press release. "Richard Linklater's unique vision and voice -- in addition to the special characters he has created  -- place him among the most prolific and poignant directors working today, and we are honored to celebrate his work."

Last year's honoree was "Silver Linings Playbook" director David O. Russell. The Dec. 2 event will hopefully keep Linklater and "Before Midnight" in the conversation that will by that time be dominated by latter-year prestige pictures. It remains one of the best films of the year, ever since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Nominees for the 23rd annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will be announced on Oct. 24.