Shirley Clarke

After developing a searing cinema verite style in her experimental shorts and documentaries, she graduated to features with "The Connection" (1960), based on Jack Gelber's play, about heroin junkies being filmed by a documentarian and "Portrait of Jason" (1967), an interview with a black male hustler. Clarke helmed the Oscar-winning documentary short "Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With the World" (1963), which had been commissioned by President John F Kennedy. While alienating her from Hollywood, Clarke's provocative subject matter made her a major influence on American underground film culture. (With Jonas Mekas she co-founded New York's Filmmaker's Cooperative in 1962.) In Agnes Varda's "Lion's Love" (1969), she appropriately played 'Shirley Clarke', a character trying to interest a producer in a film project. While teaching at UCLA from 1975 to 1983, Clarke was completing what would be her last film, "Ornette: Made in America" (1985). Begun in 1968 and utilizing film and video, it was a documentary portrait of jazz musician Ornette Coleman and his son Denardo. Clarke died in 1997 after suffering a stroke.