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The Ross Brothers (The River)

A still from the film Tchoupitoulas with three boys have their back to the camera as they sit in front of the New Orleans skyline as the sun is setting.

The Ross Brothers — Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross — are documentary filmmakers who intriguingly blur the line between standard conventions of documentary and narrative feature techniques. Their first feature, 45365 (2009), won the Best Documentary Prize at SXSW and was followed by the New Orleans-set film, Tchoupitoulas (2012).

The space between their hometown of Sidney, Ohio (45365) and New Orleans (Tchoupitoulas) was literally travelled and documented in The River (2013), a document of their troubled houseboat trip between the two locales with Alex Ross and Kyle Rouse. The River was initially a serialised documentary released on the web before being presented as a single film for the first time at Hot Docs 2013. We met the motley crew at Bar Neon in Bloordale for a conversation about their stellar films, formal style and what’s on the horizon.

Our interview with the Ross brothers was conducted in May 2013 and was one of four feature interviews in the eighteenth monthly issue of The Seventh Art as a “video magazine.” It was released in February 2013 as part of our Hot Docs 2013 coverage, which includes interviews with Lucy Walker, Matt Wolf, Alex Winter, Martha Shane & Lana Wilson, and Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin.

By Christopher Heron

Christopher Heron is one of the co-founders of The Seventh Art. He's conducted over 60 long-form interviews for the publication, while also writing and cutting several numerous video essays that investigate formal traits in films and filmmakers. He received his MA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto, where his work explored cinematic representations of urban space with special attention paid to the films of Pedro Costa and Tsai Ming-liang.