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American Independent: A Focus on Shirley Clarke

The Cool World

Shirley Clarke’s powerful portrayal of 1960s Harlem is a landmark of early American independent cinema, with an incredible score.

Image from The Cool World

USA 1963
Dir Shirley Clarke
With Rony Clanton, Carl Lee, Yolanda Rodríguez, Clarence Williams
104min
35mm

This powerful portrayal of 1960s Harlem features 15-year-old Duke navigating the complicated rules of the neighbourhood. Clarke blurred the lines between fiction and documentary by shooting the film on location in verité style and by enlisting a fantastic cast of non-professional actors and the renowned Frederick Wiseman as producer. The result is a landmark of early American independent cinema, with a memorable jazz score by Mal Waldron and Dizzy Gillespie.


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