Shirley Clarke's ORNETTE: Made in America today, some 27 years after its debut at the 1985 TIFF, is to realize just how experimental a filmmaker Clarke really was. Much of what we see on screen is what many new documentaries are now doing -- over a quarter of a century later. Using no narration as such (the press material tells us that the filmmaker used Coleman's symphony Skies of America as her underlying script, but this does not really compute: narrative can be verbal, even visual, but symphonic is a bit of a stretch), Clarke simply drops us into things and we begin to learn about this musician, his life and his music -- on the fly, as it were.
William Burroughs (above, center), Buckminster Fuller, and George Russell, a composer and professor at the New England Conservatory of Music. The last has this to say a propos Coleman's work: "The West has always thought of music as entertainment. It doesn't understand how it also can contribute ideas & philosophy."