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The American film industry has never had a problem finding young students of the art form ready and willing to sell their souls to be the next Hollywood hack. So when a young actor bypasses the system and decides to make his own movie—begun as a session of an improvisational acting class and partially financed via a plea for funds over a live radio broadcast—one might expect its release to mark the beginning and the end of his filmmaking career. In 1956, John Cassavetes boldly set out to inject some honesty into American cinema. The result, 1961’s Shadows, is not the total exercise in improvisation that Cassavetes set out to make. It is, however, a technically primitive yet spiritually refined piece of accidental innovation that some say marks the true beginning of American independent cinema. It screens at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. NW. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Chad Molter)