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“A breakneck, R-rated Jerry Springer nightmare” — Nick Shager, SLANT MAGAZINE
Director: Julian Nitzberg
Cast: Jesco White, Mamie White, Kirk White, Sue Bob White, Hank Williams III
Producers: Katie Doering, Paige Hess-Hill, Johnny Knoxville, Julien Nitzberg, Priya Swaminathan, Storm Taylor, Jeff Tremaine, Jeffrey Yapp
Distributor: Dickhause Productions
“Shoot-outs, robberies, gas-huffing, drug-dealing, pill-popping, murders, and tap dancing.” Way stranger than fiction, this wild jaw-dropper of a documentary will forever corrupt what pops in your mind at the mention of “family values.” At first glance, the White family are like something out of DEVIL’S REJECTS with a bit of UNCLE GODDAMN. Hated by cops, politicians and many of their neighbours, the Whites live in the Appalachian Mountains and regularly break every law on the books. Many have either killed or cut a person up. They openly deal dope, and even the seniors get wasted, get laid and party like rock stars. Much of the clan get by on public assistance, a perk of having been classified as legally insane. Several are convinced they’re going to hell when they die, and that makes them live life for everything its worth. North Americans are proud of their freedom while they live mostly cautious, conservative lives. The Whites represent that much-talked-about freedom in its purest sense—which scares the hell out of everyone!
Outside their many bang-ups, the Whites are also famous for the underground celebrity in their clan, Jesco White, immortalized in the cult PBS doc DANCING OUTLAW—for a supercharged, semi-fictionalized depiction of Jesco’s life and crimes, check out Vice Films’ WHITE LIGHTNIN’, also scorching the Fantasia screen this year. Cringingly uncomfortable, frequently hilarious and oddly touching, THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WHITES OF WEST VIRGINIA documents a year in the lives of the notorious outlaw family. Highlights of this single annum include a birth, a death, a murder, an attempted murder, stabbings and a full-on custody battle with bewildered child protection services. There’s fatalism everywhere, a by-product of living in a town where outside corporations have raped the land’s resources, leaving the community impoverished. This is not a place where people live for tomorrow. Director Julien Nitzberg (producer of DANCING OUTLAW) has known the Whites for 18 years and lends the film a non-judgemental, evenhanded approach, attaining a degree of intimacy that only an insider could land. Everybody’s amazingly casual when it comes to breaking a slam of laws while the camera rolls, and you can’t help but wonder if everyone involved is going to be thrown in the slammer the second this film comes out! A different kind of family movie, produced in part by JACKASS creators Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine, and featuring an incredible soundtrack with everyone from Electric Wizard and GG Allin to Hank Williams III—who also appears in the film and declares the Whites to be “the true rebels of the South.”