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The Restoration Of Shirley Clarke's Landmark 'Portrait Of Jason' Needs Your Help

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 5, 2012 5:16 PM
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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.”

But now the film is in jeopardy of maybe being forgotten, and needs your help.

A Kickstarter campaign (HERE) has been 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.

Despite that $50,000 number, their Kickstarter campaign goal is actually set at half that amount, $25,000. Thus far, they've raised about 34% of that, with 34 days to go.

Watch the full pitch in the video below, and then head over to the project's Kickstarter campaign page (HERE) to make your contribution.

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