“Common People”, the documentary film screening series initiated by Kitas Kinas, continues in Kaunas Artists’ House and is hosting a screening of „Portrait of Jason“ (rež. Shirley Clarke, 1967 m.) at 7 pm, 27 November.

This time the screen is graced by a documentary story about Jason Holiday, a 33-year-old hustler dreaming of a career as a nightclub entertainer.

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.

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 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 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.

Having stood the test of time, the film is a potent reminder of what the world was like for black gay men in the heat of the Civil Rights movement and before the Stonewall Uprising. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. No doubt that it remains as most complex and sensitive work of Shirley Clarke‘s career. On October Shirley Clarke would have turned 100.

Dir. Shirley Clarke
Documentary, Biography, USA, 1967, English, 105 min.

Tickets and discounts: tickets cost 3 EUR (2 EUR concessions – schoolchildren, students, seniors). Tickets can be purchased on the door and at “Tiketa” sales points in person and online.

The „Common People“ screening series aims to discuss not only the content of documentary films, but also the whole notion of documentary cinema. The series adresses questions of ethics, directorial decisions. To film or not to film? When does a director cross the line of closeness with their subject? Should documentary cinema reflect ‘reality’ or the vision of its creator? These questions and others are raised and discussed looking at films who maintain a close look at people telling their own stories: sensitive, creative, eccentric and based somewhere in the margins.