John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a New York City romance in between Lelia, a light-skinned black woman, and Tony, a white man. The relationship is put in jeopardy when Tony meets Lelia’s darker-skinned jazz singer brother, Hugh, and discovers that her racial heritage is not what he thought it was. Shot on location in Manhattan with a mostly nonprofessional cast and crew, SHADOWS is a penetrating work that is widely considered the forerunner of the American independent film movement.
“Shooting (unauthorised) in the streets, bars and apartments of late-50s New York (at a time when most movies set in the city were still filmed in Californian studio lots), Cassavetes's roving 16mm-camera captured urban life in its raw, unrefined state. It's a cool customer—the hip lingo and fast-talking characters all of a piece with its bebop score—but there's a scrupulous honesty to the story, too.” —Steve Rose, The Guardian “...Shot in 16mm on a low budget and involving plausible people in unforced situations, arrived at the same time as the French New Wave and offered a similar freedom in America: not the formality of studio productions, but the spontaneity of life happening right now.” —Roger Ebert (1998)