Passing Through. 1977. USA. Directed by Larry Clark. Image courtesy the filmmaker

March 10, 2022 – March 15, 2022

The Museum of Modern Art

Had he only made his 1977 feature Passing Through—one of the great and true jazz films rather than a film merely about jazz—Larry Clark would already have secured a distinguished place in the history of American independent cinema. But Clark, the writer, director, cinematographer, editor (and painter) who helped give voice to an entire generation of African and African American filmmakers in 1970s Los Angeles, together with fellow UCLA students and collaborators Haile Gerima, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Billy Woodberry, has over the past four decades made a number of singular and visionary films whose spiritual rhythms and aspirations embody the very essence of jazz itself, films that are both formally and politically defiant yet remain underappreciated. MoMA’s complete retrospective, presented by Larry Clark himself, seeks to redress this. Clark grapples with the necessities and complexities of Black liberation (his 1973 short feature As Above, So Below chronicles the radicalization of a Black Vietnam vet); reinvents a Hollywood genre (his 2002 feature Cutting Horse is a revisionist Western); and finds cinematic affinities with Black music and performance (including the watershed concert Wattstax, for which he was a cinematographer; the astonishing 15-minute opening sequence of Passing Through which, with its unbridled energy, Haile Gerima called “Africana cinema, a jazz cinema literally”; and his excellent work with actors like Nathaniel Taylor, Albert Harris, and the legendary Clarence Muse).

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.