Welcome to Leith
"Welcome to Leith" is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker about white supremacist Craig Cobb's attempt to take over the city Leith, located in North Dakota. The film premiered on January 26, 2015 at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and after a limited theatrical release on September 9, 2015 by First Run Features, it was broadcast on the PBS television series "Independent Lens" on April 4, 2016. Funding for the documentary was partially raised through a successful Kickstarter campaign, of which Shefik supported financially as a backer and received on-screen acknowledgment in the end-credits.
Leith, a 90-minute drive from the nearest city (Bismarck), is home to around 20 people, mostly farmers and ranchers living on a prairie backdrop of sky and wheat. In 2010, Leith was noted to only have a population of 16 people. In 2012, an outsider moved in and started buying up property. Residents initially welcomed him, figuring he moved to be closer to the oil fields, but American-Canadian neo-Nazi Cobb had other motives. Posting on white nationalist forums that he found the perfect place to start an all-white enclave, Cobb implored other white supremacists to move to Leith and help take over the town's government. Cobb was intent on building a community of people sharing his white nationalist ideology and gaining the electoral majority. Cobb purchased 12 plots of land in that endeavor.
Meanwhile, far from the prairies of North Dakota, Ryan Lenz, an investigator from Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, discovers Cobb's posts and informs Leith's mayor, Ryan Schock. Schock, a young rancher and family man who has lived in Leith all his life, is stunned by the news — and the ensuing media firestorm as tensions in Leith threaten to boil over into violence.
As the community rallies to save their town from strangers intent on taking it over, "Welcome to Leith" details the clash between the locals and Cobb's band of white supremacists, as they challenge his vision for the future of the place they call home.
On July 25, 2017, "Welcome to Leith" was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Documentary by the News & Documentary Emmy Awards. The film received largely positive reviews from critics. Indiewire critic Eric Kohn gave the documentary an A− grade, described it as "a stunning portrait of First Amendment rights pushed to their extremes".
On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a Certified Fresh 98% score based on 43 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's consensus states, "As disturbing as it is thought-provoking, "Welcome to Leith" offers an uncomfortable — and essential — glimpse into a part of society many Americans would much rather ignore."
Special Thanks: Shefik
Last Updated: April 23, 2022