I’ve gotta admit, when I first heard the premise for Welcome to Leith - “a white supremacist attempts to take over a small town in” – I thought, that sounds like an interesting plot someone thought up. Then later I thought, my god, that’s a documentary!? And I knew I needed to see it. Turns out it was kind of appropriate as the feature I watched after The Nightmare, as they’re both frightening films – in completely different ways mind you.
I spend most of my time around intelligent, progressive, modern-minded people, though I know extreme idiots exist, they’re not usually at the forefront of my mind. So, it’s a bit jarring to see people who zeig heil and walk around with assault rifles, using cellphones and the internet, and talking in complete sentences. Bu that’s one of the things I like about Welcome to Leith, the filmmakers weren’t afraid to humanize the racist wackjobs they documented. I think this is important because while it doesn’t make these people sympathetic (nor should it), it does remind us they’re human with wants, needs, desires and fears like the of us. And, for me at least, that makes them more flawed and less scary.
There are one especially good example of this humanization I can recall. In one, a young neo nazi man is sitting at home with his wife and little daughter. The parents ask the daughter what she learned in school that day. She says the teachers talked about words that begin with the letter “n.” The parents ask her to say some “n” words. She says things like “nine” and “nickle,” but you can tell the entire time, the parents, and the audience is waiting for her to say one particular “n” word. I thinks this shows how desperately parents want their ideals passed down to their children, but also how there’s nothing natural about those ideals, they have to be put there.
I’d recommend Welcome to Leith if you want to see some of the worst aspects of white American culture taken down a few pegs, or if you just want to see a well made documentary.