This seventy-two minute documentary by Kristy Higby pries open so many important questions that it is difficult to know where to start. On the surface, the film simply examines the artistic and family lives of two young brothers growing up in WWII era America who eventually become totally estranged after the older brother, Jesse Flowers comes back from the war.
Tom Flowers, the younger, extroverted brother eventually goes on to become a college athlete and a popular professor of art at Furman University, while Jesse becomes increasingly more isolated and reclusive.
Helping us approach a deeper understanding of this story about a family of American artists are incredible volumes of sketchbooks and other artworks by both brothers, the first-hand interviews with Tom and his sisters, family photographs, video of Jesse and thousands of letters written by Jesse to his sister. All of this is made more remarkable yet by the fact that the filmmaker, Kristy Higby, also visual artist, is married to Mark Flowers, the painter son of of Tom Flowers. Kristy brings an artist’s sensibility to the visual style of the documentary. As the film unfolded, I found myself with renewed interests in a great range of things, including: the nature versus nurture discussion, the effects of war on young men, the difficulties of communicating fully with people we love, the primal role of art-making and the importance of telling our stories. Needless to say, when a mere seventy-two minutes of my time yields that much thought, I do recommend that others try to find the time, too.
To get a copy of the documentary or to contact Kristy Higby or Mark Flowers
Listen to an in-depth interview podcast about this documentary between Kristy Higby, Mark Flowers, Tom Flowers and Walter Edgar.
Mountain Tea Studios: Asheville, NC: Mark E. Flowers & Kristy Higby