28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

ji-hlavadok-revuecdfEmerging producersInspiration Forum
The Cool World
The Cool World
The Cool World

The Cool World

director: Shirley Clarke
original title: The Cool World
country: United States
year: 1963
running time: 120 min.


An adaptation of Warren Millerʼs novel of the same name shows the viewer the harsh world of Harlem, New York. The main protagonist, a teenage African American boy named Duke, is trying to improve his social position by purchasing a gun, which helps him to become the leader of the Royal Pythons gang. The semi-documentary shows the reality of the black ghetto with its street violence, drug addiction and prostitution. In the film we can see the authentic non-actors and the real gang members. This dark film provides social criticism of the conditions in which the ghetto inhabitants have to live, while it is also an archetypal story about a manʼs desire to succeed despite the unfavorable circumstances and obstacles.

“For years I’d felt like an outsider, so I identified with the problems of minority groups. I thought it was more important to be some kind of goddamned junkie who felt alienated rather than to say I am an alienated woman who doesn’t feel part of the world and who wants in.” — Shirley Clarke


Shirley Clarke (1919–1997) was an American director and university teacher, initially a dancer and a choreographer. In the 1950s she made short films and later she directed various documentaries and feature films. She was active in the feminist movement and her work is often included in the New American Cinema.

more about film

director: Shirley Clarke
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Creative Europe Media
Česká televize
Český rozhlas