Directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker
86 min | 2015 | USA | Not Rated
Leith, North Dakota is a registered ghost town of 24 people. Its inhabitants are mostly farmers or ranchers, with land passed down generation to generation. The town has an apocalyptic beauty set against a prairie backdrop of wide-open sky and fields of wheat.
In 2012, an outsider named Craig Cobb moved in and started buying up property. He accumulated twelve plots of land, some empty, some with houses in various states of disrepair. People assumed he’d moved in to be close to the Bakken oil fields some 70 miles north. Turns out he was also a notorious white supremacist who was plotting a takeover of the city government. Shortly after his plans were unveiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a family of fellow white supremacists moved in to start fixing up his properties.
Welcome to Leith is a feature film offering a glimpse into a town struggling for sovereignty against one man’s extremist vision. Filmed in the days leading up to Cobb’s arrest for terrorizing the townspeople on an armed patrol and his subsequent release from jail six months later, Welcome to Leith is an eerie document of American DIY ideals played out in one of the most under-populated states in the nation. That it takes place in the shadow of the biggest oil boom in North Dakota’s history makes the film a complex document exploring unforeseen causes and effects.
Official Selection: 2015 Sundance Film Festival