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BRIGHT LEAVES

USA, 2004 (MIFF 2004, Documentaries)

Director: Ross McElwee

Bright Leaves USA

'Idiosyncratic, funny and genuine, Bright Leaves is a little gem.' -screen International

Ross McElwee is best known for his 1986 documentary, Sherman's March, which inaugurated its own genre by combining autobiography, ruminations on social issues and reflections on filmmaking. McElwee revisits this style, with a heady combination of social satire, home movies and contemplations on fate, movies, history and legacy.

Bright Leaves takes its title from a forgotten 1950 Gary Cooper film, Bright Leaf, in which the main character, McElwee family legend has it, is based on the filmmaker's great-grandfather, John McElwee, who founded (then lost) a famous tobacco company. Wandering through the tobacco fields of North Carolina, McElwee ruminates on the allure of cigarettes and their disconcerting legacy of addiction and loss. He interviews Bright Leaf star Patricia Neal, film historians, tobacco farmers and old friends with his trademark wry sense of humour, drawing the audience in with his charming, good-natured skepticism.

Bright Leaves screened in Director's Fortnight at Cannes in 2003.

'... leaves you feeling invigorated by the boundless curiosity, humour and high spirits of its creator.' -The New York Times

D/P Ross McElwee WS Homemade Movies TD 35mm/Col/2003/105mins

Ross McElwee was born in North Carolina, USA. Films include: Charlene (1978), Sherman's March (1986), Time Indefinite (1993).

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