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"The Overnighters": Great Desperation Surrounds a Small Oil Boom 

Tuesday, Oct 21 2014

Is there any small town in America with its name printed on the side of its water tower that isn't going through tough times right now? As seen in Jesse Moss's roundly depressing documentary The Overnighters, Williston, N.D., is perhaps doing better than the town in Rich Hill, but not by a lot. The dirty and dangerous practice known as fracking has created new oil fields and turned Williston into a boom town, but as often happens with boom towns, it's attracting thousands of down-and-out pilgrims. Embracing the unfashionable Christian tenet about helping even the least among you, Pastor Jay Weinke opens the doors of his church and gives these desperate job-seekers a place to sleep. And there his troubles begin with his fellow Willistonians, particularly since there's been a noticeable uptick in crime recently. When the secret gets out that Weinke is allowing a registered sex offender to stay with his family, the town's outrage turns The Overnighters into a sort of sociological Straw Dogs. But even with all the despair on display, the real gut punch comes at the very end, when Weinke reveals his own secret. It seems to change everything, except for what we always knew: He was a conflicted man trying to do the right thing when nobody else would.


About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly


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