Fundraising Effort To Restore Shirley Clarke's Landmark 'Portrait Of Jason' Successful!

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 11, 2012 11:17 AM
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An update, since we pushed the Kickstarter campaign here on S&A... Success to the folks at Milestone Films who just made their fundraising goal, raising $26,000 at the end of the campaign (yesterday); they originally asked for $25,000. 

Recapping... Considered a landmark of non-fiction film, Shirley Clarke's Portrait Of Jason (a film I first saw in a rare screening at in NYC 2 +years ago, from a not-so good print) is, as the title suggests, a portrait of Jason Holliday (real name: Aaron Payne) - a flamboyant, charismatic cabaret performer.

Filmed over the course of one night at the Chelsea Hotel, in New York City, Holliday dishes on a myriad of topics: racism, homophobia, parental abuse, show business, drugs, sex, prostitution, the law, and much more. As the night progresses, he pretty much tells the story of his life, gets increasingly intoxicated, and thus raw with his revelations, eventually ending up in quite an intensely emotionally vulnerable state.

It's a fascinating, must-see "confessional," if you will.

The late Ingmar Bergman called it “the most fascinating I’ve ever seen.”

The film was in jeopardy of potentially being forgotten, and a Kickstarter campaign was launched to restore and re-release the seminal film.

The details from the Kickstarter page:

The film was so progressive and so different from the films of its era that it was misplaced and mishandled by archivists, and the original film elements took years to find! After a protracted search, Milestone is pleased to be able to properly restore the film to its theatrical glory — but not without your help! Portrait of Jason is being restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Film Archive in Los Angeles, which is requiring Milestone to raise over $50,000 for the process. As an independent distribution company comprised of just two very dedicated employees (Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, husband and wife and the co-founders of the company) Milestone simply cannot afford to do this alone. If we don't raise the money now, the future of this important, extremely well crafted, highly entertaining, and outrageously funny film is uncertain. So we've turned to you — film lovers, LGBT activists, historians, artists, and/or interested human beings — to show us that grassroots fundraising is a powerful force for change, and in return we promise to give the world access to a lost masterpiece.

As of our last post, about a month ago, they'd raised about 30% of their campaign goal. Obviously enough folks chipped in over the last 30 days to make up the additional 70%!

And now the restoration process begins... leading to what should be an eventual re-release some time down the road. We'll be watching for that.

Watch the full pitch in the video below.

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