Welcome to Leith
April 4, 10 pm

Welcome to Leith

  • BY Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker | IN Civil Liberties
    Premiered April 4, 2016

About the Film

Welcome to Leith chronicles the attempted takeover of a small town in North Dakota by notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb. As his behavior becomes more threatening, tensions soar and residents desperately look for ways to expel their unwanted neighbor. An unsettling exploration of what happens to democratic principles when they’re pushed to the limit, the film asks us to consider how in a free society we confront people whose views we find abhorrent. MORE

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 2012, an outsider moved in and started buying up property. Residents initially welcomed him, figuring he’d moved to be closer to the oil fields, but Craig Cobb had other motives. Posting on white nationalist forums that he’d 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.

Meanwhile, far from the prairies of North Dakota, Ryan Lenz, an investigator from Montgomery, Alabama’s Southern Poverty Law Center, 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 Craig Cobb’s band of white supremacists as they challenge his vision for the future of the place they call home.

The Filmmakers

Michael Beach Nichols is an award-winning filmmaker and the recipient of Jerome Foundation and Rooftop Filmmaker grants. His critically-acclaimed second feature film, Welcome to Leith, debuted at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, before going on to screen at SXSW, Hot Docs, IDFA, and many others. His 2013 feature debut Flex Is Kings premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was hailed as an “awesome documentary” by rapper Pusha T. Previously, he directed The New York Times Op-Doc Separatist, the Vimeo Staff Pick Delivery, the street dance web series BKLYN FLEX, and was part of the Peabody Award-winning producing team behind Sundance Channel’s 11-hour docuseries Brick City.

Christopher K. Walker is an award-winning filmmaker whose directorial debut Welcome to Leith premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, going on to screen at SXSW, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, and many others. He also edited and produced Flex Is Kings, edited the Columbia duPont Award-winning film Triangle: Remembering the Fire, and edited the Emmy-nominated Hard Times: Lost on Long Island for HBO. He recently directed The New York Times Op-Doc Separatist and edited Freeway: Crack in the System for acclaimed filmmaker Marc Levin. He is the recipient of 2015 Jerome Foundation and Rooftop Filmmaker grants and the Karen Schmeer Award for Documentary Editing from the 2015 Independent Film Festival Boston. LESS

Film Credits

A Film by
Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker

Produced and Directed by
Michael Beach Nichols & Christopher K. Walker

Produced by
Jenner Furst

Joey Carey
Joshua Woltermann

Executive Produced by
Julia Willoughby Nason
Stefan Nowicki

Edited by
Christopher K. Walker

Cinematography by
Michael Beach Nichols

Original Music by
T. Griffin

Contributing Composers
Matt Bauder
Brendan Canty
Tim Hecker

Michael Beach Nichols
Joshua Woltermann

Additional Camera
Christopher K. Walker
Gregory Bruce
David Diebe
Carson Nordgaard
Dylan Jacobsen

Still Photographer
Joshua Simpson

Assistant Editor
Meagan Rodriguez

Valerie Veatch

David Nichols

Associate Producers
Sarah Mcdowall
Allen David Douberly
Damien Mazza

Music Recording Facility
Shiny Little Studios

Score Recording and Mix
T. Griffin

Additional Recording
Blind Spot Studio


Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone, Flute
Matt Bauder

Drums, Percussion
Brendan Canty

Electronics, Additional Mixing
Tim Hecker

Guitars, Keyboards, Electronics
T. Griffin

Composer's Assistant
Brian Crimmins

Field Soundmixer
Christopher K. Walker

Sound Effects Editor/Re-Recording Mixer
Evan Benjamin

Dialogue Editor
Greg Smith

HD Colorist
Ken Sirulnick

Post Facility
Glue Editing & Design

Online Assistant
Jordan Thompson-Deson

Graphics by
Jared Rosenthal

Titles by
Justin Sirizzotti

Archival Photos and Footage Courtesy of
Associated Press
CNN Image Source
Deborah Henderson
Gregory Bruce
Jeff Schoep
Jenn Ackermann
Magnet Media Inc. / Shutterstock
Sarah McDowall
SilverEdge / Shutterstock
The Jay Thomas Show
The Working Group / Not in Our Town

Intelligence Report Imagery Courtesy of
Valerie Downes
Russell Estes
Sean McCabe

Special Thanks
Fran Agnone
The Bardin Family
Maximiliano Benitez
Mark Benjamin
Nicholas Burnett
Ricky Camilleri
Meg and Tobe Carey
Norman I. Cohen
Peter Corriston
Sean Daily
Sue Ding
Bob Dixon
Jan E. Dizard
Lauren Fajardo
Anastassia Fisyak
Marina Libel and Josh Garrett-Davis
Matthew and Molly Grubbs
Taryn Gould
Grant County Courthouse
Sarah Jones
Collin Kelly
James Lester
Daniel B. Levin
Marc Levin
Stephen Lobo
Richard Lowe
Sara Maysles
Rebecca Metcalf
Nettie’s Bar
The Nichols Family
Elana Noy
Katie O’Rourke
Deborah and Frank Popper
Vanessa Procopio Pumo
Quayar Quinn-Settel
Dawn Rider
Schock Ranch
Ben Selkow
Mikaela Shwer
Katharine Smith
Ben Solomon
Southern Poverty Law Center
Milton Tabbot
Unity ND
Rudy Valdez
The Walker Family
Morgan White
The Residents of Leith and Grant County, North Dakota

Dedicated to the memory of Krystle Cook

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

With production support from IFP

Funding Provided by
The Jerome Foundation
And others. A complete list is available from PBS.

Welcome to Leith is a co-production of No Weather Films, The Cinemart and Sundial Pictures, produced in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This film was produced by Welcome to Leith, LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2015 WELCOME TO LEITH, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

How much do you think First Amendment rights should cover perspectives like Craig Cobb's? What would you do if your town were threatened in a similar way?


  • Hot Docs
    Filmmaker-to-Filmmaker Award
  • Florida Film Festival
    Special Jury Award
  • Independent Film Festival Boston
    Documentary Grand Jury Prize
  • East End Film Festival
    Documentary Grand Jury Prize
  • Fargo Film Festival
    Documentary Grand Jury Prize
Please review our comment guidelines.
How much do you think First Amendment rights should cover perspectives like Craig Cobb's? What would you do if your town were threatened in a similar way?