A fictionalized retelling of Oscar-winner Shirley Clarke’s 1967 film Portrait of Jason, Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley filets the meaty racial, social, and sexual issues raised by the original documentary encounter. Artist and filmmaker Jack Waters doesn’t so much play as channel Jason Holliday, the aging hustler, wannabe/has-been cabaret artist and lascivious lush that so fascinates and infuriates Clarke (incarnated here by renowned writer Sarah Schulman). A film within a film, shot on vintage-looking pixelated video and intimate to the point of invasiveness, Jason and Shirley ingeniously inverts the gaze of the original: now it’s a black, Jewish gay man probing and prodding the white, Jewish woman of privilege and power with his lens. The only constant in both films is the vicious strength and ultimate triumph of Jason, a screen icon if ever there was one.
Organized by Rajendra Roy, The Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film.