West Coast Premiere
Expected to attend: Director Stephen Winter, Actors Jack Waters, Peter Cramer, Actor/Screenwriter Sarah Schulman, Producers Bizzy Barefoot, Jason Yamas, M. Blaine Hopkins
What Interior. Leather Bar. (Frameline37) did for Cruising (or, perhaps more accurately, what Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange’s version of Grey Gardens did for the original documentary by the Maysles brothers), Jason and Shirley does for Oscar-winner Shirley Clarke’s seminal, controversial Portrait of Jason. Director Stephen Winter (Chocolate Babies, Frameline21) presents a fictitious account of the making of Portrait of Jason, a groundbreaking example of confessional biography, famously shot in one grueling 12-hour session in Clarke’s apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea Hotel. For his reimagined scenario, Winter, brilliantly borrowing the look and feel of 1960s cinéma vérité, depicts the behind-the-scenes power struggle between the white Jewish director and her eccentric gay African American star, Jason Holliday, a pill-popping, boozy hustler with dreams of becoming a cabaret superstar (just one of the many similarities Jason has to Little Edie). Upon Portrait of Jason’s release in 1967, critics were divided between condemning it as exploitation and hailing it as a masterpiece; famed director Ingmar Bergman called it “the most extraordinary film I’ve ever seen in my life.” Did Shirley bait Jason into unraveling on camera, or was this Jason’s plan all along? And just what was the nature of Jason’s relationship with Shirley’s husband, the devastatingly handsome actor Carl Lee? Mixing fantasy and reality with enthralling performances from Jack Waters (The Male GaYze, Frameline14) and Sarah Schulman in the title roles, Jason and Shirley is a fascinating exploration of art, race, privilege, sex, and—most provocatively—the fine art of manipulation.
— Joe Bowman
AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F119
Museum of African Diaspora