1958, AGFA, 87 min, USA, Dir: John Cassavetes

With its low budget, seemingly improvised style, naturalistic acting and progressive view of racial politics, Cassavetes’ groundbreaking directorial debut kickstarted not only a career, but an entirely new way of thinking about American cinema. Set in beatnik Manhattan (a locale commonly associated with the New York native), the film follows three African-American siblings who share a close bond despite their various goals, whether it be hitting it big as a musician, frequenting the local bars, or falling in love. With the free-flowing quality of jazz, a genre which dominates the soundtrack, SHADOWS remains one of the most influential films of the 1950s.

1968, Westchester Films, 130 min, USA, Dir: John Cassavetes

Both a sharp-eyed portrait of lives of quiet desperation and an excoriating look at the power games between men and women, FACES lays bare the raw nerves just below the surface of a relationship. John Marley and Lynn Carlin play a couple whose marriage explodes; as they try to drown their problems in drink and meaningless flings, Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel serve their respective purposes. Shot cinema verite style on 16mm stock, this revolutionary independent film earned Oscar nominations for Cassavetes, Carlin and Cassel.

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