“Whatever the idea is, it's never something you can just tell to another person and be sure that they know what you mean, so... just play the music.” That’s how Ornette Coleman put it, and that’s how Shirley Clarke shot ORNETTE: MADE IN AMERICA, her portrait of Coleman. It begins with his symphony “Skies of America” and ends with applause. In between, the former dancer engages with music, this free jazz pioneer’s eventful life and its images. She also explores questions of documentary filmmaking in the process, placing her talking-heads within a frame of TV screens and staging a childhood marked by discrimination and even a moon landing.
The inventor of “Harmolodics”, who would like to have been an architect or a neuroscientist, had a kindred spirit in Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Such a dome can also be found at the “Caravan of Dreams”, a performing arts centre in Coleman’s hometown of Fort Worth, Texas which takes its name from the Arabian Nights. It was inaugurated in 1983 with a performance by Coleman and his Prime Time Band, with Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs in attendance. From here, the journey moves on to Berkeley, Italy, Morocco and Nigeria.