P O R T R A I T  O F  S H I R L E Y

a film in progress about radical filmmaker Shirley Clarke


“If she had been a man or hadn’t trained her cameras so intently at black Americans, she would have likely received more attention while she was alive. But then she wouldn’t have been Shirley Clarke — pioneer, radical, visionary.”

                                         — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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R E F L E C T I O N S  O N  S H I R L E Y

  “Dancer, bride, runaway wife, radical filmmaker and pioneer — Shirley Clarke  is one of the great undertold stories of American independent cinema. A woman working in a predominantly male world, a white director who turned her camera on black subjects, she was a Park Avenue rich girl who willed herself to become a dancer and a filmmaker, ran away to bohemia, hung out with the Beats and held to her own vision in triumph and defeat. She helped 
inspire a new film movement and made urgently vibrant work that blurs fiction and nonfiction, only to be marginalized, written out of histories and dismissed as a dilettante. She died in 1997 at 77 and is long overdue for a reappraisal.” 

                Manohla Dargis, The New York Times 

  "For years I'd felt like an outsider, so I identified with the problems of minority groups. I thought it was more important to be some kind of goddamned   junkie who felt alienated rather than to say I am an alienated woman who   doesn't feel part of the world and who wants in.

                -- Shirley Clarke, 1976

 "I was relied on to be the woman filmmaker. No one person can carry that   burden. There's no question that my career would have been different if I was a man, but if I was a man I would be a different human being."

                -- Shirley Clarke, 1985


"Shirley Clarke was a gorgeously baroque and complex personality, a character   worthy of a novel or two. But what she did as a filmmaker, the subjects she chose, and how she related as a director to her medium has become so much a part of the vocabulary of cinema that her movies – ‘The Cool World,’ for instance, or ‘Ornette in America’ -- are nothing less than essential.

                — John Anderson, Film Critic

"The most extraordinary film I've seen in my life is certainly 'Portrait of Jason'… It is absolutely fascinating."

                — Ingmar Bergman