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A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951

A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951

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“Breathtaking.” — The Advocate

A smash hit at LGBT and international film festivals across the globe, Matthew Mishory’s acclaimed new drama, A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951 is a fearless, intimate fictional portrait of James Dean on the cusp of becoming both a great actor and an outsider icon. The stunningly handsome James Preston stars as the legendary ‘50s movie star whose sex appeal for both men and women was undeniable.

Stylishly evoking the boundary-pushing sexuality of New Queer Cinema as it focuses on Dean’s experiences as a rising star in Los Angeles, the film’s surreal and dreamlike vignettes blend biographical and fictionalized elements to present pivotal moments in his short yet remarkable life.

A must-see gay film!

“Who was James Byron Dean? It is certain no one knows—not to a certainty, not all of the living embodiment of mystique that was James Dean, not all of him. A Portrait of James Dean: Joshua Tree, 1951, renders the finest speculation yet offered. But more than this, and most significantly, writer/director Matthew Mishory has managed to capture an austere beauty of a kind little known and little understood by all but the likes of Baudelaire. Baudelaire, who understood the languorous insouciance of perfect youth stretched out like a cat in the warm sun, of that fleeting moment when immortality seems possible in the morning of life, in that eternal summer. This is a portrait elusive and poetical in its apparent contradictions, as poetical as the man, more boy, here as courageous as he is fearful, as intrepid and insuperable as he is shy, and small, and bewildered, and alone.” — Film International

  • Short Film: Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional 5.1 surround sound
  • Closed Captions

WINNER! Special Jury Prize for Aesthetic Beauty — Montreal Image+Nation LGBT Film Festival

Chosen as one of The Advocate’s 20 Reasons to have Pride!

“4.5 Stars! – Of the more than 100 LGBT-themed movies that screened last summer at Outfest, the Los Angeles gay and lesbian film festival, the standout was this speculative bio of the rumored-to-be-bisexual movie star James Dean.” – ECHO Magazine

“The movie is art…mesmerizing and sexy!” — Dave Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“A stylized, intriguing film about James Dean before he becomes a major movie star.” — Patrick McDonald, LA Weekly

“An evocative, nuanced, visually stunning black and white intimate portrait of a period of time in the life of James Dean before he was a household name.” — FILMMAKER MAGAZINE.

“The standout [of OUTFEST 2012] was Matthew Mishory’s Joshua Tree 1951: A Portrait of James Dean, which is notable both for its provocative depiction of an unquestionably bisexual, pre-celebrity Dean and its gorgeous, primarily black-and-white visual style….actor James Preston gives an arresting performance as Dean. To his artistic credit, Mishory also seems to be paying homage to the “New Queer Cinema” filmmakers of the early 1990s such as Gregg Araki (The Living End), Todd Haynes (Poison) and, perhaps most directly, The Hours and Times, Christopher Munch’s 1991 fantasia on the possibly-sexual relationship between John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein.” — Rage Monthly

“A nuanced portrayal of an entire era… JOSHUA TREE gives us an account of the process by which Hollywood molds an individual into its systemic image of a star. That it accomplishes this through a formal subversion of Hollywood’s stylistic code…makes the message all the more subtle.” — Travis Jeppesen, Artforum

“A dreamy meditation on [the] Hollywood icon.” — Steve Rose, The Guardian

“Evocative character study [is] an engrossing confluence of sociocultural and psychosexual elements…served up in a rich bundle of shadowy, high-noir atmospherics, stark desert rapture and intensely affectionate and craftily delivered Hollywood fetishism. It’s got a rich, authentic old-school look, thoughtful understated performances, and an all-around appealingly serious tone that sets the flick apart.” — Jonny Whiteside, LA Weekly

“Nothing short of stunning! Seeing Dean through the eyes of [Matthew] Mishory, himself clearly a young talent worthy of our attention, is a joyful experience.” — Kareem Tahsch, Miami New Times

“JOSHUA TREE, 1951 deviates from straight documentary into an artful interpretation of Dean’s pre-fame life—this portrait dramatizes it with panache.” — Dave Segal, The Seattle Stranger

“Riveting!” — Richard Burnett, The Montreal Gazette

“It is easy to forget that filmmakers with an artistic bent are precious. Matthew Mishory’s debut feature…makes us think about the expressive possibilities of filmmaking for our hybrid times. An auteur manifesto!” — V. Mijojlic, Cinema Without Borders

“JOSHUA TREE, 1951 redefines James Dean for a new generation!” — Sophie Challen, ScreenSlam.com

“Be prepared to swoon. Shot in glorious black-and-white, this might be Outfest 2012’s most ravishing film…[it] is also one of the most compelling films in this year’s lineup. A breathtaking look at a little-known period in the actor [James Dean]’s life.” — Jeremy Kinser, The Advocate

“An ethereal and exquisite dream noir. Matthew Mishory makes a movie about James Dean like no other…perfectly and meticulously executed. An intoxicating triumph!” — James Waygood, SSG Magazine

“This magical film is an intimate portrait of James Dean on the cusp of achieving notoriety. Matthew Mishory deftly uses black-and-white…while James Preston gives an uncanny performance as James Dean.” — Olivier Namet, Buzz Magazine

“A poetic dreamscape…when a film is this beautiful, it’s hard to ignore. Out of all of the film fest films currently on the circuit, JOSHUA TREE, 1951 was the one that stayed with me most, long after the film ended.” — Kevin Taft, Edge Magazine

“Hypnotic…bitterly funny!” — David Lamble, Bay Area Reporter

“A visually stunning, meditative film steeped in the classics.” — MovieMaker Magazine

“The most gorgeously stylized, luminously shot film in [Outfest]. It’s so beautiful, it’s tempting to jump in through the screen.” — Gary M. Kramer, Frontiers Magazine

“Beautiful to watch and a fascinating imagining of Dean’s life prior to fame! James Preston…capture[s] the confidence and physicality of the icon.” — Christina Hulen, Examiner.com

“The film is exquisite. It’s like new, new, New Queer Cinema. Watching it, I recall the same feelings I had as a youth watching early Todd Haynes.” — Jonathan Caouette, director of Tarnation

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