• Portrait of Jason

Streaming: Portrait of Jason

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Described by Clarke as a response to the cinema verité works of Richard Leacock and D. A. Pennebaker, Portrait of Jason is a fascinating, moving depiction of Jason Holliday, an African American gay prostitute and aspiring nightclub performer. Filmed over twelve hours, from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., in Clarke’s apartment, Holliday’s nonstop talking was interrupted only by the reloading of the camera. Clarke described it as “the first time I was able to give up my intense control and allow Jason and the camera to react to each other.” As the sole person on screen, Jason “performs” for the camera, improvising and impersonating, relating stories, confessing his sexual encounters, and ultimately revealing himself. It is a self that may or may not relate to the stories he has told, but which comes to “life” before the camera. In Clarke’s verité exposé, there is no truth; there is a production. “One thing I never expected was the highly charged emotional evening that took place,” she said. “How the people behind the camera reacted that night is a very important part of what the film is about.”

Kathy Geritz
  • Jeri Sapanen
Print Info
  • B&W
  • Digital streaming
  • 105 mins
  • Milestone Films

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Portrait of Jason documents  

The cool works of Shirley Clarke (press release), Pacific Film Archive, 1992

Portrait of Jason (program note), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1971

Portrait of Jason (review), Variety, Lee Beaupré, 1967

Portrait of Jason (review), Saturday Review, Arthur Knight, 1967

Portrait of Jason (program note), New York Film Festival, 1967

Portrait of Jason (distributor materials), New American Film Society

The cool works of Shirley Clarke (press release), Pacific Film Archive

Portrait of Jason (program note), New York Film Festival

Portrait of Jason (review), Vincent Canby

Portrait of Jason (book excerpt), Verina Glaessner

Displaying 10 of 13 publicly available documents.

View all Portrait of Jason documentation on CineFiles.

Followed By


Shirley Clarke, Willard Van Dyke, United States, 1959

Nominated for an Academy Award, this inventive documentary about the construction of a Fifth Avenue high-rise was described by Clarke as “a musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper.”

  • John White
Print Info
  • B&W/Color
  • Digital streaming
  • 21 mins
  • Milestone Films