PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967) Set of 2 photos


New York: Film-Makers Distribution Center, [1967]. Two (2) vintage original 8 x 10″ (20 x 25 cm.) black-and-white photos, one with scattered creases, one with stamp on verso of Film-Makers Distribution Center, NEAR FINE.

Shirley Clarke’s searing documentary, a monologue delivered to the camera by Jason Holliday, a Black gay man, who talks about his life (the tacit and explicit racism which he has been forced to endure, and the homophobia which he has also experienced), along with his hopes for a night club career.

This film is a landmark in LGBTQ film.

A stuffy room at the Chelsea Hotel is the stage for the magnetic Jason Holliday and his profound discourses on sexuality, race, and class. Over the course of a long December night auteur Shirley Clarke crafts a singular commentary on cinematic spectatorship as she and her partner, Carl Lee, train the camera’s gaze on Jason while he tells us stories: his upbringing as a queer black man, aspirations of being a cabaret dancer, otherness in a ceaselessly hostile world. When refraction from Jason’s fervency threatens to reveal their intentions, Clarke and Lee warp their own notions of authorship, confronting Jason from behind the camera in increasingly lacerating ways. Portrait of Jason is a herald of modern identity politics, in which Clarke fires a dire warning shot about the differences between representation and characterization.” (https://www.moma.org/calendar/events/6356)

Although the film had a minimal release (a tiny number of college campuses booked it for screening in 16 mm.), any original paper from it has, to date, never turned up until these two precious photos of Holliday recently surfaced.

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