There were only 24 inhabitants, including children, living in Leith when Craig Cobb rolled in and decided that this would be a good base for his group of racists to live and take over the governance of the town. He began to buy land around the houses that he had purchased. Cobb managed to sell one of his houses to the National Socialist Movement (a neo-Nazi organisation).
Cobb, along with some of his fellow anti-Semites and white separatists started to attend the local owners meetings. The Leith locals were scared of the way that the racists behaved as they harassed them and even carried guns into the meetings. It was particularly upsetting for one of the townspeople whose daughter had been murdered. Cobb’s supporters mocked him and were abusive. The men who went out of Leith to work became so concerned about the safety of their wives and children that they began to take them with them rather than leave them alone at home.
Eventually Cobb is arrested and put into jail. Does he stay there? You need to see the film to find out.
In spite of the horrific issues it deals with, the film is beautifully photographed and the empty countryside around the little town looks lovely and peaceful. Directors Nichols and Walker have done their best to show both sides – a difficult job when you hear the views of Cobb and his supporters. The directors have managed to obtain very telling interviews in which they express their repugnant views in a forceful manner. The townsfolk are also interviewed and one feels for them as they see the possibility that their lives could be completely changed if the racists are allowed to progress with their plans.
The film tries to show America allowing free speech but balance this with the unspoken commentary that not all freedom is to be applauded. The people of Leith certainly don’t believe in the kind of freedom of speech resulting in evil intentions and, worse still, action. This a very well-made film which deserves to be seen.
Review by Carlie Newman
Welcome to Leith is out now on DVD.