Hot Docs 2014 Review: The Overnighters
“Jesus didn’t have our neighbours,” Pastor Jay Reinke tells a man he has to unfortunately ask to leave him house; it’s funny, but he’s not joking. Reinke, staggeringly self-aware and monumentally generous, has welcomed scores to both his familial and spiritual homes, as Williston, North Dakota attracts the unemployed and desperate from around the country seeking jobs in the booming oil industry.
Arriving with next to nothing, these opportunistic and hard-luck men have no place to stay while searching for work, and in a tight-knit, wary community, Reinke is the only one willing to help. Dubbed ‘the overnighters,’ they are given refuge in his Church, the parking lot, and even his home.
It’s an incredible display of humanity, but The Overnighters becomes profound on many more levels. Reinke is remarkable: a kind-hearted man, savvy pastor, and a torn father and husband. His initiative resulted in public admonishment, a broken congregation, and a comprised family.
These incredibly selfless acts are inspiring enough; Reinke finds a way to say yes, to house, feed, and help as many as he can. In one stunning instance, Reinke invites a sex offender to stay in his home, but of course all is not as it seems.
It’s jarring: we spend time with several of those who left families to find work, seeking renewal, like Reinke. Their duty, though, means they aren’t tending to matters at home.
An undeniably powerful documentary about sacrifice, atonement, and humanity, The Overnighters is both intimate and universal and ultimately unforgettable.