Sundance Film Reviews: The Overnighters

Posted January 22, 2014 in
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Photo courtesy of: Jesse Moss

The Overnighters
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Jesse Moss

Due to the process of fracking in the Bakken Shale region of Western North Dakota, oil drilling has exploded and garnered the attention of desperate men across the country looking to find work in an economy that is not offering much. In the small town city of Williston, North Dakota, Pastor Jay Reinke of the Concordia Lutheran Church has opened the doors to his facility to new arrivals that have nowhere to sleep with “The Overnighters” program. While this act of kindness appears to be the methods of his religion, he did so without the approval of his congregation or community, and not everyone is pleased with the results. Director Jesse Moss focuses his lens on a humble act of kindness that sparks hated and debate within the city limits. Men who have left their loved ones and lives thousands of miles away spill the hearts out to Pastor Reinke and the audience claiming to have nothing. While oil tycoons fly into town in their private jets and stay in the cobblestoned mansions, thousands sleep on cots or in cars on the church’s property. There is a balance of charity and greed that Moss examines as men look for work and the community seeks to pass laws to deem it illegal to live in an RV for a certain period of time. The tension escalates when a reporter discovers the pastor has had multiple sex offenders live in his house with his wife and children. It’s astonishing how quickly the tides can turn when speculations and allegations run amuck in a tiny population, especially without all the facts. Moss shows us the core of human beings both positive and negative. Sure, there can be a limit to one’s generosity, but when is the line drawn and for what reason?

– Jimmy Martin 

Screening Times: 
Wednesday, Jan. 22 — 8:45 p.m. • Library Center Theatre, Park City
Friday, Jan. 24 — 9:30 p.m. • Redstone Cinema 1, Park City

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