London Film Festival: Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020)

Director: Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross

Running Time: 98 Minutes

For more than a decade, Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross have honed their directorial career through making a number of documentary features. Their latest charts the last night of Roaring 20's, a bar that's closing down, as its patrons gather to say farewell.

Over the course of this documentary, we see a variety of people come and go throughout, and it's clear what Roaring 20's means to each one of them. They come from all walks of life, with their own backstories and problems, and this little bar acted as their safe space. This location was their refuge from the harsh nature of the world outside, making them feel welcome when nobody else would.

In this one location, the people gather to celebrate the connections they've made. You can feel the community spirit when Ira needs to be at work, and the people help to get him in a fit enough state. They have fun singing songs, playing pranks, and feeling dumb watching Jeopardy. But it isn't just jubilation we witness, as very real moments of emotion are captured across these people. We see a pair bonding over the loved ones they've lost, and war veterans sharing their troubles which came after leaving the service.

One of the most heart-breaking stories comes from Michael Martin, who's a part of the furniture in Roaring 20's. On the final day, he's one of the first in the bar, intending to hang decorations. While he's out of earshot, others worry about how he'll function without the bar. We see him having a great time, dispensing his wisdom as he interacts with the other patrons, but as the night winds down, he bares all. In an unforgettable moment, Michael warns a young musician to not make the same mistakes he did, and to leave bars alone to fulfil his dreams. That warning is heavy with past regrets, and makes for one of 2020's most devastating moments in film.

All through the 98 minutes, we meet a wonderful array of people, each colourful in their own way. None of them feel one-note, but real beings with their own issues, trying to forget their problems and enjoy this night. They engage in real world topics, such as love, politics, and who is the most troubled generation. At the same time, they have a laugh in each other's company, which is infectious for the viewers. But as the next day comes, we're left to wonder what will happen to this community without their hub. Will the friendships created remain? The answer's unclear. What's known is that every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end, and, for Roaring 20's, it's closing time.

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets is available to watch on Tuesday 13th October at 8:30pm, through BFI Player. Be sure to get yourself a ticket right here.