One of the breakouts of the 2020 Sundance U.S. Documentary Competition was Bill and Turner Ross’ “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” a mind-bending look at the last night in business for a grimy Las Vegas dive bar. It’s set in late 2016, which means the whole world is on the brink of change. Releasing on July 10 from distributor Utopia, the film has a first trailer, which IndieWire shares exclusively. Take a look below.
The movie has been praised for its formal experimentation, as what begins as a more traditional documentary soon unfolds into something much stranger. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn raved about the film out of Sundance, writing, “At first glance, ‘Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets’ unfolds as a brilliant work of cinema verite. Bill and Turner Ross’ boozy hangout movie captures the last raucous night at the Roaring Twenties, a grimy bar on the outskirts of the Vegas strip where various inebriated outcasts bury their sorrows in a blur of anger and poetic laments. It’s late 2016, and with the presidential election about to change the world, the pub serves as a fascinating microcosm of America’s fractured, browbeaten underbelly on the verge of self-destruction…The result is both a grand cinematic deception and a bold filmmaking experimentation from two of the most intriguing directors working in non-fiction today.”
The Ross brothers have been steadily turning out inventive documentaries since the early 2010s, including “Tchoupitoulas,” “Western,” and “Contemporary Color.” IndieWire spoke with the filmmakers at Sundance about their approach to “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” which employs a unique framing advice to capture the subjects in the bar.
“Outside that bar door you see the great manifestation of American excess. You see American affluence,” said Turner Ross. “Why are these often transient people in the bright lights seeking the shadows of a dark bar? For us that was intrinsic in what we were after and the great framework of the film.”
In honor of National Dive Bar Day, Utopia will host one-day-only virtual screenings on July 8 to benefit the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Fund. Participating virtual cinemas for the July 10 rollout including Film at Lincoln Center, BAM, and Alamo Drafthouse. Find out more information on how to see the film right here.