Essential New York
1959 (87mins)
Dir: John Cassavetes


From the very opening frames of Cassavetes’ Shadows you know you’re in for something special. A packed party. Wild guitars. Crazy piano. Insane boogie music. Charles Mingus’ name in the credits supplying “additional music”’s about as in the moment, as it happens, when it happens as you can get.

From then on and using the streets, bars and coffee shops of 1959 New York as its backdrop Shadows tells an interracial love story that ducks, dives and weaves through the New York jazz and beatnik scene - not something that saw its way to American cinema screens at all, let alone in a creative style so fresh and dynamic.

Shadows feels more like a documentary than a work of fiction in its fractured editing, close framing, urgent propulsion, untouched actual locations, high contrast and film grain and not always beautiful people.

Shadows was a revolutionary type of feature filmmaking that embraced new 16mm technology - also the weapon of choice for the new breed of documentary filmmakers - but it also embraced a new style of performance which seemed largely improvisational but which masked a highly tuned directorial approach and vision from Cassavetes. Required viewing for all lovers of cinema and an honour to present.