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Portrait of Jason 

When: Fri., Oct. 18 2013
Portrait of Jason is a legendary documentary from 1966, a recently restored work by avant-garde filmmaker Shirley Clarke. Over a single night in the Chelsea Hotel, Clarke interviewed a colorful character named Jason Holliday. Black, gay and a hustler — “I’m a stone whore, and I’m not ashamed,” he says cheerfully — Holliday is an amazing raconteur who name-drops buddies like Miles Davis and tells tales of hip scenes in San Francisco and New York. He’s also a boozer, a user, an Alabama expat, a survivor of violence and racism, not to mention an aspiring cabaret star and a veteran con artist. The last item seems to have enraged Clarke, and by the end of the film she and her collaborator Carl Lee are verbally battering Holliday to the point of cruelty. The stories Jason Holliday tells — particularly about gay life and black life in America — are priceless, and if both he and the director are unreliable narrators, well, as Jason would put it, “I’ll never tell.”
— Dana Kopp Franklin


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