Welcome to Leith (2015) [Review]

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Looking to give a more prominent focus to documentaries here at Movieblort, next up is Welcome to Leith, a feature length documentary detailing the conflict that occurred in a small town in northern America. The ‘town’ of Leith, previously with a population of just 10 individuals, resides within North Dakota and rose to prominence when infamous white supremacist Craig Cobb moved to the neighbourhood.

His plans were to buy up the cheap land within Leith, invite the other extremist leaders from around the United States who felt persecuted in their own country, and eventually gain the town for him to create a safe-haven for racism and bigotry to exist. It’s a haunting documentary, showing just how distorted and backwards some individuals’ ideological beliefs are and what happens when these transfer into actions.

Directors Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker tell the story from the moment Cobb moves in, combining archival footage, local interviews and newsreels to paint a clear picture of the unnerving situation. Somewhat miraculously, they have also remained impartial. The tendency in this instance is to portray individuals as you view them, and while Cobb and his associates are almost all universally hated, the documentary allows the powerfully ignorant actions to speak for themselves.

Documentaries on racism always fascinate me, because I struggle to comprehend their rationale behind such awful viewpoints. I don’t think they can even articulate why they are the way they are, because there is no logical reasoning to support their views. Wild claims and conspiracy theories somehow excuse violence, enforced segregation and intimidation, and Welcome to Leith see’s this big issue of extremist beliefs and the right to freedom of speech, clash against rational and conservative Americans on the smallest scale possible. It plays out like a real life thriller, and shocks you more than most fictional films could do.

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