Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Overnighters Will Stay With You

A compelling documentary about 21st century life in North Dakota, The Overnighters follows desperate and broken men flee their homes in search of money and to chase their dreams to the oil fields of North Dakota either to chase a rainbow or to flee demons.

The film follows the efforts of a local Pastor who offers sanctuary to men by letting them stay in his church firstly and/or live in their cars in the parking lot; causing much consternation amongst the local community who look unfavourably upon out of towners.

While this could be considered a social document for the modern age, you could say this is like the Gold Rush during the Old West with men leaving their family and homes in search of a quick buck and to make a new life for themselves. When they get to the location they are greeted by locales with cynicism and scorn with only a welcome coming from the house of the God.

Directed and filmed by Jesse Moss and produced by Amanda McBaine (The Investigators), The Overnighters won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance in 2013 and was nominated for Best Feature Documentary in 2014.

Moss has a keen eye for mise-en-scene from a small child with dirt under their finger nails that have not been scrubbed for days to a man laying on a bed behind a chain link fence but shot to look like a prison. Not only is it a document of a man trying to do the best he can, but it is also the disintegration of a marriage in front of our very eyes which makes the film all the more raw and powerful in its message.  And much like a western, one man ends up alone in the wilderness searching again for a place to sleep at night.

At times hard hitting and totally engrossing in portraying both the need of people to help others and the resentment that help may lead to, the film is a societal document about the schism in American society between those that have jobs and those that do not.

The Overnighters is out on DVD from Dogwoof on 9th February.

For an exclusive interview with the director, Jesse Moss, please click here

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