Portrait of Jason (1967) (brand new, restored 35mm print!)
Friday, May 17th to Thursday, May 23rd, 2013:
Brand new 35mm print!
Restoration by the Academy Film Archive,
Milestone Films and Modern Videofilm
PORTRAIT OF JASON
1967, USA, 105 minutes, 35mm, Milestone Films
Directed by Shirley Clarke
(onscreen) Jason Holliday
(offscreen) Shirley Clarke and Carl Lee
"OK, Jason, here we go."
"My name is Jason Holiday.
My name is Jason Holiday
My name is Aaron Payne"
"What do you mean, Aaron Payne?"
"Aaron Payne, that was my given name and in San Francisco I got involved with a group of people that were under the influence of Sabu. He was changing people's names to suit their personalities and he changed my name. Jason Holiday was created in San Francisco and San Francisco is a place to be created, believe me."
And here begins one of the most incredible and influential films in cinema. For twelve hours over the course of the evening of December 3, 1966, director Shirley Clarke and her friends interviewed Jason Holiday about his life, his loves, his work and his beliefs. Jason, a 33-year-old hustler dreaming of a career as a nightclub entertainer, dazzles the audience with stories of confrontations with his family growing up in Trenton, the orgies he has attended, and the hustling that has formed the pattern of his life as a black, gay man. He recalls his college days before dropping out, working as a bar hustler and as a servile houseboy in San Francisco, becoming a heroin addict and spending time in jail, and his time in a hospital mental ward. He describes his existence while waiting for his dream to come true: "I have more than one 'hustle,' I'll come on as a maid, a butler, a flunky, anything to keep from punching the nine to five I am scared of responsibility and I am scared of myself because I'm a pretty frightening cat Like I don't mean any harm, but the harm is done."
PORTRAIT OF JASON is a film in which Jason Holliday is given the entire screen for an hour and 45 minutes, during which time he makes probably as candid a self-revelation as has been known in the history of motion pictures or literature. And yet, how much is true and how much is a performance? Shirley Clarke's films were always exploring the border between cinema verité and fiction and PORTRAIT OF JASON may well be her masterpiece.
Daring, provocative, ground-breaking and truly gripping, PORTRAIT OF JASON was one of the first LGBT films to be taken seriously by the general audiences. It remains one of the most remarkable films of American independent filmmaking.
- synopsis courtesy of Milestone Films
"One of the most genuine, most outstanding narratives of the decade! About a very complex human being, as complex as many a Dostoyevsky character. A beautiful person and a tragic one."
- Jonas Mekas, Village Voice
"The most extraordinary film I've seen in my life is certainly Portrait of Jason...It is absolutely fascinating."
- Ingmar Bergman
"Portrait of Jason says more about race, class and sexuality than just about any movie before or since."
- Melissa Anderson, Film Comment
"Shirley Clarke's third feature is almost as straightforward as its title. It picks up the passionate interest in ghetto subcultures that Clarke established in The Connection and The Cool World, but this time without feeling any need to create a fiction: Portrait of Jason is simply a two-hour conversation with a middle-aged, black, homosexual prostitute. The new simplicity of approach reflects the enormous influence of Andy Warhol on independent film-making in the '60s: a new trust in basic film-making techniques, and a new distrust of 'artifice' like editing. Jason himself certainly provides enough artifice to keep any audience engrossed: his colourful, self-mocking account of his life reveals a great deal about the situation of a ghetto boy with 'white-boy fever'. The moral catch is that by fulfilling Jason's dreams of himself as a 'performer', the movie deliberately pushes him out of his own control... "
- Time Out
Fri, May 17th: 7:30 & 10:00 pm
Sat, May 18th: 3:30, 6:00, 8:30 pm
Sun, May 19th: 5:30 & 8:00 pm
Mon, May 20th: 8:00 pm
Tue, May 21st: 8:00 pm
Wed, May 22nd: 8:00 pm
Thu, May 23rd: 8:00 pm
Screening format: 35mm (brand new print!)
New Beverly Cinema (View)
7165 W. Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036