In 2012, white supremacist Craig Cobb headed to Leith, N.D., and urged readers of the national neo-Nazi separatist Vanguard News Network to follow. Envisioning the rural village as a poor man's gated community, he gobbled up 12 to 14 lots. As chronicled in the documentary "Welcome to Leith," he then set out to take over the 3-square-mile hamlet that had been inhabited by 24 residents.
Cobb and the toady Kynan Dutton pushed the locals' buttons by shouting "Sieg heil!" at city council meetings and patrolling dirt roads with a loaded rifle and shotgun. Cobb also posted on Vanguard the addresses of a local resident's siblings and ex-wife as well as details concerning the murder of the man's daughter. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cobb has a history of posting private information in public forums in retaliation against those who oppose him.
Filmmakers Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker follow the events with journalistic impartiality, courageously engaging Cobb, Dutton and other white supremacists and even incorporating home footage filmed by Dutton's wife, Deborah Henderson. A score that conjures a horror atmosphere is the only thing tipping their hands.
Indeed, this could be the scariest film of the year. Cobb already is up to the same tricks in Antler, N.D.; Inavale, Neb.; and Red Cloud, Neb. This cautionary tale couldn't be more timely or essential.
"Welcome to Leith"
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.