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Director: Shirley Clarke, Shirley Clarke
1961 / 110min / 35mm
Reimagining Jack Gelber’s controversial off-Broadway play about a group of addicts—many of them jazz musicians—waiting for a fix, Clarke changed the slumming writer companion of the original to a fly-on-the-wall filmmaker out of the cinema verité scene. The result was a cross-examination of documentary ethics, a demonstration of freewheeling camerawork that erased the material’s stagebound origins while swinging along to the original jazz score, a cause célèbre of New American Cinema—and a target for eager censors across the United States, who assured The Connection would for a long time be more influential than it was screened. Well, it’s still around.
“Shirley Clarke’s The Connection based on and adapted by Jack Gelber is a film way ahead of its time. Arguably the first film to use the “found footage” trope to tell a fictional story. This film blew my mind when I first saw it, the direction and the performances are incredible, I’m hesitant to say too much. We find ourselves in the apartment of Jazz musician and heroin addict Leach as we wait for their dealer to arrive before they can’t start shooting their documentary.”–Devonté Hynes