(Ross McElwee, USA, 1984) 40 minutes


Producer/Photography/Editor: Ross McElwee
Dr Ross McElwee
Other members of the family

Reviews and notes

The first time he turned his camera on his family in Backyard, he emerged with a prodigal son's piercing take on the South.
- Alyssa Katz, Village Voice.

One summer, Ross McElwee, having no money, lots of time, and just enough second-hand film stock, decided to return to his home in North Carolina to see if anything had changed in the ten years since his defection to the North. Nothing had. Backyard is about insecurity, schizophrenia, envy, anger, compromise, acquiescence - in short, all those feelings that make going home to visit the family a warmly memorable experience, especially if the family is a Southern one. Backyard is about a politely enforced Carolina style of apartheid where blacks clean up after whites in the kitchen, the bedroom, and the hospital operating room. It's about the tensions arising from the expectations of a doctor father for his two sons, one a medical student, the other a filmmaker. And it's about a mother's death, a death that's never been discussed in the family. Backyard is more about what's not said than what's said, what's not done than what's done.
- Programme notes by the ICA, Boston.

Screening with CHARLEEN

Weblink: A review by Beth Gilligan,, 31 January 2006

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