Still from Welcome To Pine Hill
Welcome to Pine Hill
Slamdance Film Festival
Director: Keith Miller
Based on real events in the life of lead actor Shannon Harper (playing himself), Welcome to Pine Hill presents an intimate look into the life of a young black man as he severs the ties of his drug-dealing past and attempts to cope with his sudden diagnosis of terminal cancer. Though this is a narrative film, it is comprised of long, improvised takes, which provide a sense of documentary realism as Shannon pays off debts and tries to make amends with his mother, all the while keeping news of his cancer to himself. The one time Shannon spills his guts about his impending death, it falls on the deaf ears of an immigrant cab driver. The dialogue is sparse—the audience is left with ample space to get inside Shannon’s head and feel his sense of isolation. The most emotional scene and the turning point in the story comes from real footage of an old crack addict’s monologue, lecturing Shannon and his group of old dealer friends about how we live our lives and the legacy we will leave when we are gone. The phrase, “[If] you die before your prime, there’s somethin’ wrong with that,” sends Shannon walking away, never looking back. As he walks deep into the Catskill Mountains in his hometown of Pine Hill, retching from the pain of cancer in his guts, he finally finds peace away from the city concrete.