Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Bright Leaves 2003

Directed by Ross McElwee

USA In English
107 minutes 35mm

Director, Screenplay, Photography


Ross McElwee
Mark Meatto


Cannes, Toronto, New York 2003; Rotterdam 2004


“Sherman’s March director Ross McElwee makes another witty, thoughtful and illuminating visit to his Southern roots in Bright Leaves. A rewardingly personal documentary in which the filmmaker deftly uses his specific family legacy as a jumping off point for wry ruminations on American history, the tobacco business, public health and cinematic license, this warmly engaging feature has a bright future indeed… With his engagingly low-key, sometimes self-deprecating commentary, McElwee welcomes the viewer into a homespun but by no means corny comfort zone where issues big and small, personal and historical, can be discussed in the same relaxed, free-associative manner.” — Todd McCarthy, Variety 

“McElwee is really an American humorist in a tradition that extends from Mark Twain through Garrison Keillor. Narrating the movie in the laid-back drawl of an affable Southern storyteller, he turns personal experience into a speculative personal mythology that is meant to be taken with a big grain of salt.” — Stephen Holden, NY Times