Five films by American filmmaker John Cassavetes – the spiritual father of the independent film scene – will have their worldwide Blu-ray premiere this year, with the release of Dual Format Editions (containing DVD and Blu-ray discs) by the BFI. The John Cassavetes Collection is launched on 23rd April with his ground-breaking 1959 debut feature Shadows and his 1968 film Faces starring Gena Rowlands.
Cassavetes' first film charts the doomed relationship between a young mixed-race woman Lelia (Lelia Goldoni) and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man who betrays his prejudice when he meets Lelia's brother, a struggling jazz singer. Shot on location with a cast and crew largely made up of amateurs Shadows features a swinging, improvised score by Charlie Mingus and Shafi Hadi, and is considered to be the first truly independent American film.
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition, the special features will include:
- Audio commentary with actor Seymour Cassel and film critic Tom Charity;
- Falk on Cassavetes: the early years (DVD only, 13 mins): never-before-seen interview footage with Cassavetes' friend and collaborator;
- 16 mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane's acting workshop (DVD only, 4 mins);
- Original theatrical trailer (DVD only, 4 mins);
- 32-page illustrated booklet featuring new essays and notes from Michael Atkinson, Brian Morton and Tom Charity.
Shot in searing, high-contrast black and white 16mm, Cassavetes dissects the suffocating world of middle-class Los Angeles where hollow laughter and drunken frivolities mask loneliness and social alienation. Nominated for 3 Oscars – an unheard-of achievement for an independent film at the time – Faces employs a freewheeling, realist approach, and showcases some of the finest performances ever seen in American cinema.
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition, the special features are:
- Alternative opening sequence (DVD only, 20 mins);
- Alternative opening sequence audio commentary (DVD only, 20 mins): Peter Bogdanovich and Al Ruban discuss an earlier cut of Faces;
- Seymour Cassel interviewed by Tom Charity (DVD only, 47 mins);
- 32-page illustrated booklet featuring interviews and new essays from Tom Charity and Al Ruban.
John Cassavetes' three mid-1970s features A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977) will be released in Dual Format later in 2012.
More detailed packshots will be posted when we get them.