Portrait of Jason

USA, 1967, 35mm, 105', b/n

director:

Shirley Clarke

Portrait of Jason

December 3, 1966. African American cabaret performer Jason Holliday tells his own story in front of a camera in the living room of his apartment on the top floor of the legendary Chelsea Hotel in New York. For 12 hours he describes his incredible life with exuberance and theatricality. Behind the camera, film director Shirley Clarke and her partner Carl Lee provoke him into confessing the many sins he has committed during his life, generating a provocative and often sadistic dialogue. What emerges is the portrait of an eccentric character who has first-hand experience every day of the problems of black homosexuals living in puritanical, racist America after World War II. One of the masterpieces of Avant-garde American cinema, now restored. This is a caustic, tense film that draws inspiration from techniques used at that time in cinéma verité in France, and from Andy Warhol. Vito Russo and Ingmar Bergman really appreciated this film, so much so that Bergman defined it as "the most extraordinary film I've ever seen".

editing

Shirley Clarke

photography

Jeri Sapanen

sound

Francis Daniel

cast

Jason Holliday, Shirley Clarke, Carl Lee

producer

Shirley Clarke

production

Shirley Clarke Productions, Graeme Ferguson Productions

distribution

Reading Bloom

 

Reading Bloom
readingbloom@gmail.com
www.readingbloom.com

 

Shirley Clarke

Biofilmography

Experimental filmmaker Shirley Clarke (1919 – 1997) from New York joined the Independent Filmmakers of America group in 1955 and in 1962 founded The Film-Makers' Cooperative together with Jonas Mekas. She received an Oscar nomination for the documentary Skyscraper (1959) and in 1961 she began to shoot feature films with The Connection, followed by Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World (1962), which was awarded an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, The Cool World (1963) and Portrait of Jason (1967). In the Seventies and Eighties she dedicated herself to video art and in 1975 she began to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles.