John Cassavetes has been called a genius, a visionary, and the father of independent film. But such rhetoric threatens to obscure the humanism and generosity of his art. The five films included here represent his self-financed works made outside the studio system of Hollywood, on which he was afforded complete control. Populated by beatniks, hippies, businessmen, actors, housewives, strippers, club owners, gangsters, and children, the films are beautiful, emotional testaments to compassion. Cassavetes has often been called an actor’s director, but this body of work—even greater than the sum of its extraordinarily significant parts—reveals him to be an audience’s director. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under the Influence, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and Opening Night in stunning new transfers, as well as Charles Kiselyak’s 2000 documentary A Constant Forge—The Life and Art of John Cassavetes.