North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Bright Leaves describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North Carolina by a native Carolinian, Ross McElwee, whose great-grandfather created the famous brand of tobacco known as Bull Durham. The comedic chronicle is a subjective, autobiographical meditation on the allure of cigarettes and their troubling legacy for the state of North Carolina. It’s also a film about family history, addiction, denial, and filmmaking—as McElwee, noted director of Sherman’s March, grapples with the legacy of an obscure Hollywood melodrama that is purportedly based on this curious man that was his great-grandfather. —IMDb
Ross McElwee took the basic precepts of cinéma vérité and personalized them to create a unique form of documentary making that earned him much acclaim and several awards. His work is almost always autobiographical and he often films himself at some of life’s most personal and awkward moments, though usually within the bounds of decency and good taste. Though there are many who feel his documentaries are too slow-paced, detailed, or abstract to be appreciated, there are an equal number of fans who love slowly being drawn more deeply into his world. The three feature films most representative of his style are also his most famous: Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation (more simply known as Sherman’s March), Time Indefinite, and Backyard.
A native of Charlotte, NC, McElwee earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and, a few years later, earned a master’s in filmmaking from the Massachusetts… read more