Chameleon Street

Chameleon Street

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival, Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s debut feature endures as a brilliant satirical examination of the place of race and class in the performance of American social life. Harris himself stars as William Douglas Street Jr., a real-life con man from Detroit who, disillusioned with working for his father, sets about reinventing himself—and then again, and then again—successfully impersonating a vast succession of journalists, lawyers, athletes, and even surgeons in the process. Harris’s film boldly shape-shifts to match its subject’s own chameleonic transformations, yielding not just a landmark work in American independent cinema but also a singular meditation on the mutability of American identity that’s dense with aesthetic and political ideas.

Watch our interview from the 59th New York Film Festival with director Wendell B. Harris Jr. and NYFF Assistant Programmer Dan Sullivan.