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Friday, July 29, 2022
Based on the novel by Warren Miller about a teenager navigating the violent turf wars and internal hierarchies of Harlem gangs, and set to an unforgettable jazz score composed by Mal Waldron and performed by Dizzy Gillespie, Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World is a landmark of early American independent cinema. The film was produced by a young Frederick Wiseman, and it possesses something of a documentary quality as a result of its uptown location shooting, cast of local non-actors, and partially improvised performances. “Everything I’ve done,” Clarke explained late in her career, “is based on the duality of fantasy and reality,” and The Cool World, like many of the works in this series, is constantly pivoting between the two.