About Cheryl Dunye Presents: Portrait of Jason/Pink Triangles

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Cheryl Dunye is scheduled to be present.  Portrait of Jason (1967) Directed by Shirley Clarke Pink Triangles (1982) Produced by Cambridge Documentary Films

Cheryl Dunye has personally selected two film titles to screen from Indiana University’s film archival holdings. From the Black Film Center/Archive’s collection, Portrait of Jason is a film that plays with complexities. On the night of December 2, 1966, director Shirley Clarke and a tiny crew convened in her apartment at the Hotel Chelsea to make a film. There, for 12 continuous hours they filmed the one-and-only Jason Holliday as he spun tales, sang, donned costumes, and reminisced about good times and bad behavior as a gay hustler, sometime houseboy, and aspiring cabaret performer. Now, almost 50 years after it was filmed, Portrait of Jason is a potent reminder of what the world was like for Black gay men in the heat of the Civil Rights movement and before the Stonewall Uprising. Holliday talks about serving time at New York’s Riker’s Island jail after propositioning (or being propositioned by) an undercover cop. And his observations on the casual racism he experienced are funny, stinging, and painful.

Preceding Portrait of Jason will be Pink Triangles (30 min.), from the Kinsey Institute’s film archive. Pink Triangles, an educational video about homophobia and oppression, was produced by a group of nine women and men, both gay and straight, who work as health workers, teachers, social workers, mental-health counselors, historians, and in photography, print and film. This film investigates the common roots of the oppression of all of those who are defined as out of the mainstream. Pink Triangles was one of the very first films to confront the growth homophobia in American life and served to alert audiences to the danger of scapegoating and violence that can occur in any society. Although the film is specifically about homophobia, it is also about the very nature of discrimination and oppression, examining both historical and contemporary patterns of persecution in which racial, religious, political, and sexual minorities are singled out as “different,” “not normal” or “inferior” and become the victims of the scapegoat mentality of societies under stress. (2K DCP Presentation) 

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