Follow the daily adventures of Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett as he tries to keep the peace in the rural community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. More than five years in the making, Sheriff uses classic cinema verité technique (which excludes interviews, music, and narration) to create a character study of an American icon, the small-town sheriff.
At once a good ol’ boy, politician, and dedicated community servant, Hewett heads what was once a ridiculously backward department. (Before his election in 1994, the department wasn't even open after 5 p.m.) But with an easy confidence and a knack for reeling off evening news sound bytes like a pro, Hewett is changing all of that.
The film shows Hewett and his officers as they hunt down an escaped bank robber, raid a video poker operation, and even recover a stolen big-rig filled with ceramic lawn ornament molds. When he is not chasing bad guys or giving press conferences on a grisly homicide, the sheriff finds time to pray with concerned residents, tout responsibility to junior high students, and go hunting.
Director/editor/cinematographer Daniel Kraus includes quiet interludes that capture the tones and textures of the modern American South. Insects chirp over poetic shots of twisted marshland, corn stalks rustle in a hot wind, and a neon sign advertising “Worms & Coffee” buzzes through the humid, dark night.
At once brutal, bizarre, and funny, Sheriff is an unexpected, intimate portrait of a complex man trying to do good in a bad, bad world.
- Daniel KrausDirector