‘Bleed American’ captures youth in the Midwest

Austin Holloway in 'Bleed American'

Austin Holloway in ‘Bleed American’

Indy director
Tre Manchester
brings authentic
regional flavor
to a
universal reality

Bleed American is a coming-of-age tale that puts separate socioeconomic classes into a common frame. Inspired by director Tre Manchester’s memories of growing up in Northwest Indiana, it brings Midwestern flavor to a universal reality.

“In my hometown, upper class kids would throw parties in their parents’ houses that had pool tables in the basement,” says the filmmaker. “Ten minutes south, people were driving pickups and lighting bonfires to hang out and drink beer.”

Bleed American tells the story of a family that is fractured by the illness and hospitalization of single mother Lisa Granger (Kathryn Haynes). In her absence, older brother Larson (Jarrett Maier) struggles to assume parental responsibility while younger brother LJ (Austin Holloway) battles with his attraction towards a local troublemaker who shows him compassion.



A master class in speed
Shot over eight days with a 40-person crew, production on Bleed American was faster and cheaper than that of Manchester’s 2015 debut, The Things We’ve Seen, which won Best Feature at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival. According to the director, the process stimulated a welcome rush.

Tre Manchester
Tre Manchester

“It was a master class in speed and how to make a film fast,” he recalls. “It was, ‘hey let’s scrape together everything we can and see what we can do without the added pressure that the first film brought.’”

The location was also significant factor in getting it done.

“The Midwest is a character in itself,” Manchester explains. “That’s kind of the way we wanted to treat it. Most people see cornfields, but there’s a lot to it. It’s diverse within a ten-mile radius and distinct to situations and people.”

Channeling the kind of regional glory celebrated in films like The Florida Project and The Wrestler, Bleed American is an intense but worthwhile trip through the Midwest.

Bleed American premieres September 5 at Classic Cinemas Lake Theatre in Oak Park. For tickets and information, click here.

Send your indie film updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.