Six O’Clock News

Director: Ross McElwee

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Ross McElwee returns to Sundance (he won the Grand Jury Prize in 1987 with his documentary Sherman’s March) with a new autobiographical documentary, Six O’Clock News, which explores the subjects we see on the evening news in innovative and personal ways. During the period after his first child was born, McElwee found he was spending more time at home watching television, particularly the six o’clock news. He was struck by all the people’s lives which had been affected in ways they never had expected. The vicissitudes of life took on new meaning, as any parent will recognize, because he suddenly had a son he felt he needed to protect from the world’s many dangers.

Deciding to go on the road to meet some of the “characters” he sees on the nightly news, McElwee takes us across the United States, stopping in places where people’s lives have been impacted by devastating tragedies. Heading south from his home in Boston, he first stops to try and find an old friend whose home may have been destroyed in a hurricane. From there on, everyone we meet begins as a stranger, though they don’t stay that way for long. As we've seen in previous films, McElwee has an uncanny ability to ingratiate himself into other people’s lives and quickly get beneath their surface. These people are not statistics to him; to the contrary, each person’s story is as personal and moving as the one he’s just told. Where the news stories leave off, his journey begins

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details


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