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October 23, 2003

VES Faculty Screening: Ross McElwee

A Visiting Lecturer here in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, Ross McElwee is an award-winning filmmaker who has completed seven feature-length documentaries. His Sherman’s March has won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and was cited by the National Board of Film Critics as one of the five best films of 1986. His theatrically distributed Time Indefinite won best film awards at several festivals, and Six O’clock News won best documentary at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Retrospectives of McElwee’s work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the American Museum of the Moving Image, New York; and his films have been screened and broadcast internationally. In 2000, Sherman’s March was chosen for preservation by the Library of Congress National Film Registry as a “historically significant American motion picture.”

October 23 (Thursday) 7 pm - Director Ross McElwee In Person

Bright Leaves

Directed by Ross McElwee
US, 2003, color, 107 min.

Premiered last spring at the Director’s Fortnight 2003 in Cannes, Ross McElwee’s Bright Leaves describes a journey across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of his native North Carolina, which produces more tobacco than any other state in America. A subjective, autobiographical meditation on the allure of cigarettes and their troubling legacy for the state, it is about loss and preservation, addiction and denial. And it’s about filmmaking—home movie, documentary, and fiction filmmaking—as McElwee fences with the legacy of an obscure Hollywood melodrama that is purportedly based on the life of his great-grandfather, who created the famous brand of tobacco known as “Bull Durham.” McElwee explores the notion of legacy —what one generation passes down to the next— and how this can be a particularly complicated topic when the legacy under discussion is both a Southern one and tied to tobacco.

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Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700