The city’s longest-running organization dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film, documentaries, animation and video art.

February 7: Shirley Clarke’s Ornette: Made in America


Thursday February 7, 2008, 8:00 pm

At the Silent Movie Theatre
611 N. Fairfax Ave. just south of Melrose
Park across the street at Fairfax High School

Los Angeles Filmforum and CineFamily present
Ornette: Made in America by Shirley Clarke
As part of CineFamily’s Jazz on Film: Capturing Creation series.


 “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air, you can never capture it again.”—Eric Dolphy

Jazz and motion pictures are two of our youngest art forms. Both developed at the beginning of the 20th century, and have seen rapid innovation and evolution in their technological, stylistic and expressive potential. While jazz remains America’s most celebrated cultural product, film is our most popular medium. As long as people have been making music, filmmakers have sought to record the live experience—to prevent the music from vanishing into the ether, as Dolphy describes. The best jazz films, while not quite containing the music’s ephemeral power, can sharpen our senses, engaging our eyes and our ears. In a sense, all of these movies are documentaries, capturing sound at the moment of its birth. Our series takes a broad cross-section of the genre, from the 40s big band swing of Stormy Weather to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. Come see and hear some of the best American artists of our recent past, bigger than life, and high on the act of creation.

Ornette: Made in America (1985, 80 min., color, 35mm), Directed by Shirley Clarke, produced by Kathelin Hoffman, Camera: Ed Lachman, music: Ornette Coleman.  Shirley Clarke was one of the key figures of the American independent film movement, whose films The Connection (1961) and The Cool World (1963) cemented her reputation.  Both had strong jazz elements, and for her final film, Clarke returned to the jazz scene, making this brilliant music documentary featuring the legendary Ornette Coleman, a toweringly innovative yet humble figure.  The film serves almost as much as a portrait of Ft. Worth, Texas, Coleman’s birthplace, to which he returns to perform his Skies of America symphony to the most well-healed society members, and with his electric Prime Time group at the Caravan of Dreams, replete with early zany video game effects added by Clarke.  Throw in Coleman philosophizing on his art and life, and a boy (a figurative Coleman) wandering the streets of Ft. Worth.

This week Filmforum inaugurates its new venue partnership with CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre.  CineFamily has revitalized the Silent Movie Theatre with wide-ranging,  and smart programming.  From a continued interest in silent movies to experimental films, cult works to bizarre pop hits, foreign and domestic, CineFamily displays the cinephilic sensibility that we are delighted to share. 

The Cinefamily is an organization of movie lovers devoted to finding and presenting interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive, weird and wonderful films. The Cinefamily’s goal is to foster a spirit of community and a sense of discovery, while reinvigorating the movie-going experience. Like campfires, sporting events and church services, we believe that movies work best as social experiences. They are more meaningful, funnier and scarier when shared with others. Our home is the Silent Movie Theatre, one of Hollywood’s most beloved and beautiful cultural landmarks. There, The Cinefamily will provide a destination spot for Los Angelenos and others to rediscover the pleasures of cinema.

Built in 1942 by John and Dorothy Hampton, The Silent Movie Theatre ran for decades as the only fully functioning silent movie theatre in the country. It has been fully restored to its original, vintage 1940s art deco design, along with a brand new screen and sound system, to help a new generation enjoy the pleasures of cinema in a beautiful theatre.