Skip to main content

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).

See also...

TIME INDEFINITE

Ross McElwee's earlier film, Sherman's March, delighted MIFF audiences with its witty, charming and wonderfully eclectic insights into the heartland of America and his dreams of finding the perfect ... More »

SHERMAN'S MARCH

Subtitled "A meditation on the possibility of romantic love in the South during an era of nuclear weapons proliferation also a comedy". ... A cinema verite style road movie in which the filmmaker ... More »

SPEEDO

Speedo USA'Lovers of the strange, of the over-the-top, of the wrecked train'your new cult hero is here and his name is Speedo.' -Film ThreatAn unconventional and truly original love story, this ... More »

wild parrots of telegraph hill, the

The personalities of a flock of oversized budgies and their hippy caretaker ensnare you in the irresistibly charming [The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill]. ... "It's also a portrait of Mark Bittner ... More »

FARMINGVILLE

Farmingville USA In September 2000, two Mexican workers were beaten nearly to death by young white youths in the New York state town of Farmingville. This explosive documentary examines the ... More »

IMELDA

Imelda USA'I've been very misunderstood', complains Imelda Marcos, wife of the former Philippine dictator, a woman who cemented dozens of dead workers into the foundations of an architectural ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director