North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Bright Leaves describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Allan Gurganus ...
Himself
Paula Larke ...
Herself
Marilyn Levine ...
Herself
Emily Madison ...
Herself
...
Himself
Ross McElwee ...
Himself
Tom McElwee ...
Himself
...
Herself
Vlada Petric ...
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Charleen Swansea ...
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Storyline

North Carolina produces more tobacco than any other state in America. Bright Leaves describes a journey taken across the social, economic, and psychological tobacco terrain of North Carolina by a native Carolinian, Ross McElwee, whose great-grandfather created the famous brand of tobacco known as Bull Durham. The comedic chronicle is a subjective, autobiographical meditation on the allure of cigarettes and their troubling legacy for the state of North Carolina. It's also a film about family history, addiction, denial, and filmmaking--as McElwee, noted director of Sherman's March, grapples with the legacy of an obscure Hollywood melodrama that is purportedly based on this curious man that was his great-grandfather. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Release Date:

8 October 2004 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

La splendeur des McElwee  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,485 (USA) (27 August 2004)

Gross:

$77,888 (USA) (3 June 2005)
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Miss Tobacco: [on being asked about the tobacco industry] It brings a lotta jobs and a lotta revenue, but... it has its health hazards and... everybody's gonna die of something, so...
[giggles]
Ross McElwee: May as well be tobacco?
Miss Tobacco: Might as well die of something that's gonna help out the... the... *what's* the word? Here, I'm thinkin'...
Ross McElwee: Economy?
Miss Tobacco: [beams] *There* ya go. There ya go. Havin' a tough mornin'...
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Too many beauty queens to be named here See more »

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Features Bright Leaf (1950) See more »

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Tobacco poetry
2 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

While it is still a personal documentary from McElwee, the master of the form, "Bright Leaves" is a film that speaks far beyond the personal. As McElwee films across the south, it seems everyone-- smoker or nonsmoker-- has a relationship with tobacco. The most amazing thing about the film is the filmmaker's even handedness and understanding for the pull that cigarette smoking has on his subjects, even though the filmmaker himself has never had a tobacco habit to peak of. Given Michael Moore's work and other popular documentaries of the day, the expectation is that "Bright Leaves" would have a stern and condemning view of the tobacco industry. On the contrary, he gives humorous insight on the age-old habit. McElwee's writing, as found in his narration, is incredibly poetic as it rolls along the blue hills of North Carolina. Even weeks later, I think of that last sequence of shots, the tanker of tobacco heading off to far lands, the shots of his son, and understand why I myself, like so many, have this attraction to smoking, or what McElwee calls the urge to give pause to time, and likens to his own filmmaking and photography.

The most how genius moment features Vlada Petric, and McElwee's long standing side character, Charlene, is still a gift. The film really does stick with you for a long, long time, and deserves lots of exposure and great distribution.


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