Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Overnighters


This moving documentary has all the drama of people in a tense situation. There's compassion, hope, rejection, redemption and betrayal. That's a lot to pack into a documentary about the surge of people moving to Williston North Dakota looking for work in the oil fields.

The town of Williston had a population of about 15,000 in the 2010 census. Then, fracking started an oil patch boom, and the population doubled in a few years and is on track to triple by 2017.

Each bus debouches men desperate for a fresh start after failures back at home. They see the economic boom as a change for high-salaried employment, and redemption.

But there's simply not enough housing for these men. So Pastor Jay Reinke squeezes beds and blankets into the church and RVs into the parking lot. The ever cheerful and upbeat Reinke welcomes them, he counsels them, he shows endless patience and compassion for these broken men. He tries to build a community.

But the existing community doesn't like his actions - not his congregation, not his neighbours, not the town council. The conflict that unfolds is the heart of this movie. The wrenching ending packs incredible punch, a huge surprise for the filmmaker, and  the audience.

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