When I sat in my seat at Sundance back in January to see the Ross Brother’s new experiment “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets”, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  I just knew it was a “documentary*” from nontraditional filmmakers about a dive bar. It sounded intriguing to me, as a frequent dive bar patron. What came on the screen was a fly-on-the-wall experience during the last night of a Las Vegas bar, the night before the 2016 election. The cast of figurative (and literal) family members came and went as conversations, sing-a-longs, arguments, and teary moments graced the screen. Missing a traditional plot, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets shows off the good, the bad, and the ugly, pulling no punches. I was mesmerized. 

Now that the pandemic has kept us away from our favorite watering holes, this film strikes a new chord. I truly miss those late night random conversations with strangers, blurry talks, and empathetic story sharing, but Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets allows us to experience that, even if at a distance. It might not be close to the best film of 2020, but it keeps moving up to one of my favorite experiences this year. If you long for those late night dive bar hangs, grab your favorite drink and rent away on Kan-Kan’s On-Demand.

* SPOILER: it’s not a “true” doc, the directors found all the people and constructed the situation without a script. Personally, discovering this news during the Q&A made the film more interesting. It brought into question what is a documentary and what is Truth within filmmaking? At the end of the day, film is art. If that art evokes a true emotion, didn’t you succeed? Keep Experimenting Ross Brothers…

Daniel Arthur Jacobson, Programming Director