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Portrait of Jason

The Photographers' Gallery

Join us for screening of the seminal American documentary A Portrait of Jason, presented in dialogue with the photographs of Dave Heath. The film and its themes of performance, alienation and authenticity, is introduced by transdisciplinary writer and academic Gavin Butt.


On 2 December, 1966, Shirley Clarke and a tiny crew convened in her apartment at the Hotel Chelsea to make a film. There, for twelve straight hours they filmed the one-and-only Jason Holliday as he spun tales, sang, donned costumes and reminisced about good times and bad behaviour as a gay hustler, sometime houseboy and aspiring cabaret performer. The result is a mesmerizing portrait of a remarkable, charming and tortured man, who is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking.


Ingmar Bergman called it “the most extraordinary film I’ve seen in my life,” and when first screened in a sneak preview, the audience included Tennessee Williams, Robert Frank, Norman Mailer, Andy Warhol, Arthur Miller, Ruby Dee, Rip Torn, Geraldine Page and Terry Southern.


Daring, provocative, ground-breaking and truly gripping, Portrait of Jason was one of the first LGBT films to be taken seriously by wider audiences. Part cinema verité and part fiction it remains one of the most remarkable films of American independent filmmaking.

Book Tickets

Wednesday 22 May 201919:00