Portrait of Jason
Dir. Shirley Clarke. 1967, 105 mins. 35mm. With Jason Holliday.
“In Portrait of Jason, indie trailblazer Shirley Clarke invites us to spend one drunken night with Jason, a flamboyant hipster, a self-proclaimed ‘stone whore,’ and a linguistic dynamo. In a lesser film Jason would be a charismatic, easily digestible icon of marginalized self creation—the kind beloved but untimely undervalued by those in privileged positions. But as the barrier between Jason and Clarke breaks down, sympathies oscillate toward and away from both director and subject, forcing us to wrestle with the power dynamics of representation, performance, and spectatorship in ways that are as relevant today as they were when the film broke new ground in 1967. Clarke describes the film as a battle, one that by the end she was happy to let Jason win. The nature of that victory however is a question we are left to reckon with for ourselves.”— Donal Mosher