Tribeca doc Oxyana causes controversy in West Virginia


Alec and I didn’t like the drug addiction documentary Oxyana at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Apparently we’re not alone. A number of West Virginia residents are upset with director Sean Dunne and claim that he has misrepresented the town of Oceana based on various reports, reviews, and trailers. Some of these concerns have been raised in the comments for reviews of Oxyana at The Playlist and Film School Rejects. No one in West Virginia has had a chance to see the documentary yet since Dunne has reportedly declined to screen Oxyana for residents of Oceana and currently has no plans to screen the film in the state. Oceana resident Dennie Morgan (who commented on the FSR review) is calling for a town hall meeting on May 31st to address issues with the film and within the community.

Initial concerns about Oxyana were raised during the production of the film last year. In this September 6, 2012 article from The Register-Herald, Oceana resident Ashley Stewart expressed worries over the negative portrayal of the town. In a Film International interview with Dunne and Mike Moore, an Oceana dentist who appears in the film and has seen the completed work, Moore suggests that some of the anger over Oxyana may be rooted in denial by those in the community.

This issue’s pretty fascinating to me in that it raises a number of questions about the practices of documentary filmmakers as well as the actual drug problems facing Southern West Virginia. I’m particularly interested if screenings will eventually take place in West Virginia or if screener copies will be given out to residents in some fashion. We’ll keep tabs on this as it develops.

After the cut is a video of Morgan on WVVA TV discussing his issues with Oxyana. You can also view/listen to a radio interview with Morgan at MetroNews by clicking here. (The comments with the broadcast are pretty interesting.) I’ve also included some tweets from Dunne himself regarding these recent reports.

[via MetroNews, WVVA, The Register-Herald, Film International, The Playlist, Film School Rejects]