Project Description

Bright Leaves

Film Still from Bright Leaves

Ross McElwee, 35mm film, 107 mins. (2003)

North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Ross McElwee’s film describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North Carolina by a native Carolinian whose great-grandfather created the famous brand of tobacco known as Bull Durham.

Bright Leaves is a subjective, autobiographical meditation on the allure of cigarettes and their troubling legacy for the state of North Carolina.

It’s about loss and preservation, addiction and denial. And it is about filmmaking — home movie, documentary, and fiction filmmaking — as the filmmaker fences with the legacy of an obscure Hollywood melodrama that is purportedly based on his great-grandfather’s life.

Bright Leaves 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 a Southern one and is tied to tobacco.

Distributed by First Run Features, New York.

Ross McElwee