by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
June 17th, 2010

45365, an intimate documentary about a small Ohio town, one of the most beautiful, fascinating, unique feature films of Rooftop’s 2009 season, is now playing at the Anthology Film Archives in New York. The glowing review in The Times called it “a beguiling slice of Midwestern impressionism.” The film also won the award for best doc at SXSW last year.

When we had the New York premiere Rooftop, Bill and Turner Ross stayed out till dawn and fell in the Gowanus Canal while canoeing, then had their dad playing trumpet in a parade down the roof as the rain came down during the snowstorm scene on screen. It was one of the most memorable Rooftop shows we’ve had, and will give you a sense of the spirit of this film.

We also screened the Ross Brothers new short Dinosaur Curtains at Rooftop’s annual “Home Movies” screening on May 29.

at Anthology Film Archives
June 17-24, 2010
32 Second Avenue (at 2nd St.)
New York, NY 10003

My review from last year at Rooftop:
Pre-teen peer pressure, high school heartbreak and adult disillusionment on the football fields, factories, and fair grounds of small town America. A luscious and gritty verite film that captures the mood and melody of Midwest life. Artfully directed by brothers Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, native sons to Sidney, OH, this amusing and revelatory documentary won the award for Best Documentary at SXSW 2009.

One of the enjoyable challenges of 45365 (a documentary portrait of Sidney, Ohio, made by brothers Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, native sons) is just how difficult it is to write about. Like the old joke about the dancer asked to explain her dance, to which she replies, “If I could explain it, I wouldn’t go to all the trouble of dancing it.” With a free-form verite film like 45365, the only way to explain it: to describe every luscious and gritty shot, football fields, factories, fist fights and fair grounds; to perform all the flatly fantastic dialogue, pre-teen peer pressure, high school heartbreak, adult disillusionment; to replicate all the parade noise broadcast on local radio, the train rumble that rattles the windows, the melody of Midwest life = to go to all the trouble of making it.

Over nine months, the Ross brothers floated through their home town with ghostly freedom and access. There is no voice over, no interviews, no overt story lines. But dramatic scenes coalesce from the quiver between banality and beauty. A table of old ladies dotter on about the home shopping network, unfurling an unexpected vivaciousness. Characters are crafted in chitchat. A cop who cares enough about a convict to leave a note for the guy’s wife. And storylines pop like fireworks, that is, in spontaneous but recurring motifs. A teen who can’t bring herself to break up with the boyfriend who is always on the other end of a cell phone. A guy who can’t bring himself to stay honest, even with his own mother. A high school football team whose best moments are in practice, in the locker room, at video game parties.

45365 captures the plain pathos of a single place like few other films ever do. It is amusing and informative, exciting and realistic, tragic and eternal. But as I said, this synopsis is inadequate. To get at these emotions and ideas, you could live all your life in Sidney, Ohio, or you could see this film.


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About Rooftop Films

Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.


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