Deep within the majestic Appalachian Mountains, the tiny town of Oceana, West Virginia, struggles with an epidemic of prescription-drug abuse. A former mining town, Oceana has been nicknamed “Oxyana” due to the overwhelming prevalence of Oxycontin, Percocet, and similar painkillers. Trapped in a poverty-stricken, rural area supported by a dying industry, many residents turn to drugs for relief and to drug dealing for income. The result has been the loss of a generation ravaged by addiction, overdoses, jail, depression, and violence.
Following last year’s short film AMERICAN JUGGALO (IFFBoston 2012), which led the viewer into the midst of a misunderstood subculture, director Sean Dunne once again delves into the heart of a community to gain its trust and candor. Though the topic seems ripe for exposé or reality-TV exploitation, Dunne’s contemplative filmmaking style emphasizes the personalities and stories behind this epidemic. Hillary Spera’s gorgeous cinematography highlights the contrast between the melancholy interiors of run-down homes and the stunning natural beauty that surrounds them, while the haunting soundtrack creates an elegiac atmosphere for an exploration of the human costs of addiction and the failure of America’s war on drugs.