On March 15, the newly restored film Portrait of Jason received its U.S. premiere at the UW Cinematheque. The film, originally released by the late Shirley Clarke in 1967, is daring, provocative, ground-breaking and truly gripping and one of the first LBGT films to be taken seriously by the general audiences. It remains one of the most remarkable films of American independent filmmaking.
Making the evening even more special was having Wendy Clarke, Shirley’s daughter and a wonderful filmmaker in her own right, and Dennis Doros of Milestone Films in attendance. Milestone Films has spent the past few years restoring three of Shirley’s other films – The Connection(1962), Ornette: Made in America (1985), and Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World (1963). Wendy and Dennis arrived in Madison a few days before the screening to do research in the Shirley Clarke Papers at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research; Shirley started donating her papers in 1973. The WCFTR worked closely with Milestone Films throughout the restoration process to help bring Portrait of Jason back to the big screen and “hidden” gems from Shirley’s collection at the WCFTR will be included in the upcoming DVD release of the film.
Dennis Doros spoke at the Communication Arts colloquium on March 14 and described in great detail the many twists and turns Milestone Films encountered in the process of restoring the film. To learn more about the restoration adventure, you can watch Dennis’ presentation here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/870959691/portrait-of-jason-film-restoration/posts/356402 Professor emeritus David Bordwell also wrote an extensive piece on his blog concerning the film:http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2013/03/17/ill-never-tell-jason-reborn.