Ross McElwee has made seven feature-length documentaries as well as several shorter films. Most of his films were shot in his native American South, among them the critically acclaimed Sherman’s March, Time Indefinite (which aired on POV in 1994), and Six O’Clock News. Sherman’s March won numerous awards, including Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and was cited by the National Board of Film Critics as one of the five best films of 1986. McElwee’s films have been shown in festivals worldwide, and have received retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Museum of the Moving Image, and États Généraux du Film Documentaire in Lussas, France. In 2000, Sherman’s March was selected for a Cinéma du Réel retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and four of his films were featured in a selection of western documentaries shown for the first time in Tehran, Iran. The Library of Congress National Film Registry has chosen Sherman’s March for preservation.
A native of North Carolina, McElwee graduated from Brown University and earned an MS in filmmaking from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His began his career in his hometown of Charlotte where he was a studio cameraman for local evening news, housewife helper shows and “gospel hour” programs. He later worked shooting films for documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and John Marshall. McElwee started producing and directing his own documentaries in 1976. McElwee has been teaching filmmaking at Harvard University, where he is a professor in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, since 1986.