May 21, 2013

Academy Conversations: The Cinematic Impact of PORTRAIT OF JASON

On May 10, I had one of the most powerful screening experiences of my life. No exaggeration. To open the third biennial "Orphans West" film symposium, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences assembled 5 speakers, 2 files (a DCP and an MOV, to be precise), and a first-rate tech team to present its new restoration of the 1967 film Portrait of Jason. As with the 2001 Orphan Film Symposium 35mm screening of Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977), as restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, I was expecting something great -- but again my expectations were surpassed. Again both the power of the movie and the quality of the restoration took be aback with their greatness.

The screen in the Linwood Dunn Theater is huge, particularly for a facility of fewer than 300 seats.

The seats were filled with an audience who knew this was going to be something special. Indeed it was. Elvis Mitchell, who moderated the post-screening discussion, was assigned the seat next to mine in the second row. About 20 minutes into Portrait of Jason, he got up and walked to the back of the auditorium. No, Elvis had not left the building to check his e-mail; he was retreating from the intensity of the movie. Jason Holliday (or Aaron Payne, by birth) is already a larger than life character, but Shirley Clarke's camera presents him in close ups, tighter close ups, and nothing ever more distant than a medium long shot. To escape the claustrophobic intensity, our moderator chose to view the rest of the movie from the back of the theater.

Compounding the emotional impact of the film's ending, was the addition of a short outtake, or more specifically an audio clip (on MOV). The movie's final moments are already painful to watch. While we watch Jason at the end of his all-night meltdown, we hear from off camera Shirley Clarke and her sometimes-companion, actor Carl Lee, beleaguering their on-camer subject. In this outtake, an even more sado-masochistic verbal exchange occurs. Shirley tells Jason that he once did something so terrible to her that it made her want to kill herself.  No one knows what the incident was.

If you can find a theatrical screening, don't wait for the Blu-Ray/DVD release. Portrait of Jason is currently running at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles.

Below, from AMPAS, is a 5-minute video, Academy Conversations: The Cinematic Impact of Portrait of Jason.

Elvis Mitchell moderates a discussion of Shirley Clarke's Portrait of Jason (1967) with Academy Documentary Branch governor and Oscar recipient Rob Epstein (Times of Harvey Milk), documentarian and Oscar recipient Jeffrey Friedman , (Common Threads), Clarke's assistant during the shooting of POJ Robert Fiore (also director of Pumping Iron and an NYU Tisch alum), and Milestone Films' Dennis Doros. Recorded during "The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films" on May 10, 2013 at the Linwood Dunn Theater.

Here's the view from Oscar's YouTube channel:

NYU and the Orphan Film Symposium thank the Academy for so generously hosting this event.
And thanks to Milestone for granting us a preview in advance of POJ's West Coast theatrical release.

May 9, 2013

"Takes in Strays"

The Los Angeles Times for May 8 features this piece on the Academy's orphan film events of May 10 and 11.  Love the phrase "takes in strays."  Writer Mark Olsen talked with filmmakers Penelope Spheeris and Jim Hoberman, as well as Milestone Film and Video's Dennis Doros and Randy Haberkamp, who runs the show at the Academy's film archive, its Herrick library, its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, and the forthcoming museum.

'The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films' takes in strays

        The festival at Linwood Dunn Theater includes 'Portrait of Jason' and other films that have been lost, overlooked or abandoned.,0,5406338,full.story

May 7, 2013

Filmography for THE REAL INDIES, May 10+11

  QUESTION:  What's being projected at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater, May 10-11?  


  • A New Look for the Bell System (Saul Bass, 1969)
  • A Place to Stand (Christopher Chapman, 1967)
  • City Harvest (United Films / OWI, ca. 1943)
  • Don’t Bank on Amerika (Peter Biskind, 1970) excerpt
  • Exploratorium (Jon Boorstin, 1974)
  • Felix Ferdinando and His Orchestra in “Musical MomentS” (Bristolphone, ca. 1929)
  • female-narrated trailers, Packard Humanities Institute Collection (1960-70s)
  • footage of Hollywood Gay Pride Parade (Pat Rocco, 1971)
  • footage of Showley Brothers Candy Factory (San Diego, 1924) 
  • Help! My Snowman’s Burning Down (Carson Davidson, 1964)
  • Hey Mama (Vaughn Obern, 1969)
  • home movie from San Francisco (Herman Barfield, ca. 1917)
  • home movie of Satchel Paige and other all-stars (Richard Brooks, 1948) 
  • home movies from Expo 67 (Walter Forsberg, 1967/2004)
  • home movies from NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? (Rick Prelinger, 2013)
  • home movies of New Orleans (Helen Hill, 2000-2003)
  • LEAD-INs (BET, Saundra Sharp and Thom Eubank, 1981)
  • Mission to Mongo (Jim Hoberman, 1978)
  • Naked Yoga (Paul Cordsen, 1974) excerpt
  • OH MY GOD! IT’S HARROD BLANK (David Silberberg, 2008)  excerpt
  • outtake from PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967)
  • PORTRAIT OF JASON (Shirley Clarke, 1967)
  • SHIT (Penelope Spheeris, 1969)
  • snipe countdowns (ca. 1940s-60s) courtesy of Walter Forsberg
  • T.A.C. Magnavox TV ad (ca. 1972)
  • The Love Charm (Ray Rennahan, 1928) excerpt
  • The Shape of Films to Come (CBS, 1968) excerpt
  • Transformations (Ralph Sargent for IBM, 1968)
  • Two: A Film Parable (Satyajit Ray, 1964)
  • What About Thad (BYU/LDS Motion Picture Studio, 1973)
  • When the Organ Played “Oh Promise Me” (Cecil Stokes, ca. 1943) 

May 5, 2013

Get thee to A CLOSE LOOK AT ORPHAN FILMS, 10 & 11 de mayo

Cinco de mayo 2013

OMG! It's nearly time for the third iteration of what some Angelinos call "Orphans West." As happened in May 2009 at the Silent Movie Theater with The Cinefamily and Los Angeles Filmforum, and in May 2011 at the UCLA Film & Television Archive's Billy Wilder Theater, this year the Academy is teaming with the NYU Orphan Film Symposium to bring a variety lineup of orphan films to Los Angeles. They call it The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films.

May 10, 8pm PORTRAIT OF JASON (1967) new restoration by the Academy Film Archive and Milestone Films. With guest speakers Robert Fiore (one of the very few crew members present for Shirley Clarke's all-night shoot with Jason), Oscar-winning documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and critic Elvis Mitchell.

Simply a great film.

May 11, 10:30 am til 11pmish -- More than 25 films and excerpts + lunch for a mere $15!
Reviving neglected works ranging from Penelope Spheeris's unseen student short (SHIT, 1969) to Jim Hoberman's experimental political essay film MISSION TO MONGO (1978 -- did you know the great critic J. Hoberman made films?) and Jon Boorstin introducing his beautiful EXPLORATORIUM (1974). Plus steam punk-archivist Dino Everett demonstrating a rare but functioning 16mm sound-on-disk projector from 1929. Plus the golden-tongued  Rick Prelinger talks about his new production NO MORE ROAD TRIPS? Plus trailer, snipes, home movies, re-creations of home movies, small-gauge and 70mm films, the debuts of several new preservation projects, and brands few have heard of, like Auroratone and Bristolphone.

Newly added to the lineup:  a tribute to Les Blank, with his first film RUNNING AROUND LIKE A CHICKEN WITH ITS HEAD CUT OFF (1960, made at the University of Southern California), print courtesy of Flower Films, and an excerpt from David Silberberg's documentary OH MY GOD! IT'S HARROD BLANK (2008).  (Last-minute thanks to Harrod and David for their timely help.)

So SoCal friends: Buy tickets now, please!  The evening screenings will be especially hot tickets, it seems.

Linwood Dunn Theater -- 1313 Vine Street --  Hollywood

a co-presentation 
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 
New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and Department of Cinema Studies

May 1, 2013

ACP: Free screening in Boston, Saturday, May 18th, 2pm

Happy May Day

From: Regina Longo

Regina M. Longo, PhD
Visiting Lecturer
Department of Film and Digital Media
University of California Santa Cruz 

The Albanian Cinema Project