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Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets

(Bill and Turner Ross, 2020)

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A group of six men and women of various ages sit a dive bar counter tended by a bearded man

In this fascinating hybrid documentary, the Ohio-born Ross brothers place very real barflies into a fictional dive bar in 2016—and capture a community attempting to face an uncertain future.

In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, and not long after the election of Donald Trump, it’s last call for the beloved bar known as the Roaring 20s; a group of regulars drink, commiserate, flirt, goof around, and say goodbye to an era. That’s the premise, at least—the reality is as unreal as the world the bar’s “regulars” are escaping.

Past Wexner Center guests Bill and Turner Ross rented a bar in New Orleans and carefully selected a group of nonactors to gather for this unscripted but fictional send-off. Through this bold conceit, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets captures a cultural moment—a mosaic of disparate lives teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they anxiously face the future, and singing as their ship goes down.

Natives of Sidney, Ohio, the Ross brothers are recognized among today’s most adventurous documentarians with films such as 45365, Tchoupitoulas, and Contemporary Color. One of the most acclaimed works at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is their most vibrant and form-busting project to date—an elegiac portrait of a tiny world fading away but still warm and beating with the comfort of togetherness. (98 mins., digital video)

"Any semantic and epistemological questions raised…are overridden by the sheer inventive joy of watching something that feels so unpredictable and alive."
Los Angeles Times

More about the film

A group of six men and women of various ages sit a dive bar counter tended by a bearded man

Image courtesy Utopia Distribution

An older man rests his head on a bar counter

Image courtesy Utopia Distribution

An African American man smokes with his elbow on a bar counter

Image courtesy Utopia Distribution

MADE POSSIBLE BY
Greater Columbus Arts Council
Ohio Arts Council
American Electric Power Foundation
The Columbus Foundation
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Nationwide Foundation

ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY
Huntington Bank
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Kaufman Development
Cardinal Health Foundation

 

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Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets