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The Cool World

Shirley Clarke’s (Portrait of Jason, The Connection, Ornette: Made in America) hybrid film follows the Harlem youth gang, the Royal Pythons, and their adventures and tribulations both. Starring mostly non-professional actors, the film is a trenchant look at inner-city life in the early 1960s, encapsulated by this group of young men who roam the streets of Harlem. Produced by documentary legend Frederick Wiseman and featuring a stunning soundtrack by Dizzy Gillespie, The Cool World was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1994. The dynamism of this picture about the crucial adventures of a youth who aspires to and briefly achieves the chieftancy of a fighting Harlem gang flows from the brilliant, brutal picturing of the community as it is—or, as Miss Clarke elects to see it—and of the tough, youths who range its streets and slums.”—The New York Times. The Cool World was preserved by the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center from original camera negatives in the Zipporah Films Collection. Novelist Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers, The Mars Room) will discuss cinema’s influence on her work in a post-film discussion moderated by Portland Monthly’s Fiona McCann.

Onsite $2 ticket discount available for those with Portland Book Festival wristbands/proof of purchase!

Genres: Documentary

Other Films by Shirley Clarke

Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World

President Kennedy’s speech on the occasion of Robert Frost receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in March 1962 forms the epigraph for director Shirley Clarke’s powerfully human portrait of Frost, shot just months before the iconic poet’s death in 1963. Clarke intercuts footage of Frost out in the world—speaking to students, touring a naval vessel, delivering