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Poster for The Connection

The Connection

Director: Shirley Clarke Run Time: 110 min. Format: 35mm Rating: NR Release Year: 1962

Starring: Carl Lee, Freddie Redd, Garry Goodrow, Jackie McLean, Jerome Raphael, Jim Anderson, Larry Richie, Warren Finnerty

Part of the VICE Presents: The Film Foundation Screening Series at Nitehawk Cinema. Introduction by writer/director Desiree Akhavan (Appropriate Behavior)!

Shirley Clarke’s controversial and influential film, The Connection, portrays a group of drug addicts and jazz musicians waiting in a New York loft apartment for their drug connection.

Considered one of the most vital and fascinating films of American independent cinema, The Connection was made by Shirley Clarke at a time when women directors were in very short supply. As her first feature, she adapted the controversial off-Broady play by Jack Gelber making a play within a play within a jazz concert (including a musical score by legendary pianist Freddie Redd). With all of the action contained on one-set, the kinetic movement of the film comes from Clarke’s mobile camera, one that plays off of the fluidity of jazz and embraces the Beat saturated dialogue. 

Ultimately Clarke made film that shattered stereotypes and, rather than showing good guys gone bad, she graphically depicted the raw reality of drug addiction in America. Therefore, despite being acclaimed as a masterpiece at the Cannes International Film Festival and heralded as influential by fellow filmmakers, The Connection was promptly banned by government censor boards for indecent language and a struggle ensued to have theatrical release in the United States. The fallout from the battle to have a wide release caused it to remained unseen for many years. Now restored and newly re-released, audiences finally have the opportunity to see The Connection on the big screen.

*A portion of each ticket sale goes towards The Film Foundation. Tickets also include complimentary Larceny Bourbon drinks at an after-party in Nitehawk’s downstairs bar! 

Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation.

Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.