Index 19: Screening The Connection

11 May 2016, 19:00–22:00

Still from The Connection (1961), director: Shirley Clarke
Still from The Connection (1961), director: Shirley Clarke
Still from The Connection (1961), director: Shirley Clarke

In connection with Stephen Willat’s exhibition THISWAY-, Index 19 presents Shirley Clarke’s legendary film The Connection, selected by the the artist.

Shirley Clarke’s debut feature The Connection shows a jazz quartet and sundry deadbeat friends hanging out in a grungy New York City loft, waiting for their drug connection. They jam, argue, wax philosophical and ham it up for the benefit of a self-important documentary film maker and his cameraman. Based on the groundbreaking experimental 1959 stage play about heroin addicts, produced by the Living Theatre, the film adds another layer to the stage version’s play-within-a-play structure by framing it as a mock-documentary in which the two-man film crew interacts with the musicians/addicts in the loft where they are awaiting their “connection.” The brilliantly written dialogues (structured as a series of jazz solo-like monologues) is interspersed with and underscored by jazz music composed and performed on screen by pianist Freddie Redd and Jackie McLean on saxophone. The film is as much about improvisation as about documentation and social roles.

A former dancer with a deep love for music, Clarke created with The Connection the ultimate jazz film – camera, actors, and musician constantly riff with and off each other to electrifying effect. Throughout her career, Clarke broke taboos (making films about junkies, ghetto teens, gay life and avant-garde jazz) and pushed the boundaries of film technique.

“Dancer, bride, runaway wife, radical filmmaker and pioneer – Shirley Clarke is one of the great under told stories of American Independent cinema. The connection signaled the beginning of a new period in her life, and just maybe it will again bring her the acclaim she has always deserved.” (Manohla Dargis, New York Times)

The Connection (1961), 110 min.
Director: Shirley Clarke, written by Jack Gelber, with Warren Finnerty, William Redfield, music: Freddie Redd

Index 19 is a weekly events series in Index’ front space. Presenting single works, films, readings and discursive events, the aim is to create a space for dialogue with our surrounding community and visitors. Index 19 is a flexible program initiative, with one night or returning events by international artists and Stockholm-based initiatives.

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