News Column

'Oxyana,' Film About Drugs in Small-town America, Available July 1

June 13, 2013

Zack Harold

West Virginia soon will get to see the documentary that has already stirred up enough controversy to merit renouncements from state officials, a U.S. attorney and at least two members of Congress.

"Oxyana," a documentary about the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Oceana, a small town in Wyoming County, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.

The film, directed by Sean Dunne, won a special jury mention in the festival's world documentary competition.

It also has won plenty of criticism from Oceana residents, even though it's doubtful any have seen the film. The "Oxyana" website calls the town a "nightmarish dystopia" and "one of God's blindspots." The trailer compares the town to a scene from the Dark Ages.

On July 1, the film will be available to the public for the first time. DVDs and Blu-ray discs of "Oxyana" will be available at for $20 and $25, respectively.

Customers also will be able to purchase or rent a digital version of the documentary on that site. Digital rentals will cost $3.99, while digital downloads will cost $9.99.

"We recognized when we set out to make 'Oxyana' just how sensitive the subject matter was, but once we started showing the film at festivals, we saw an urgent need to get this message out to a wider audience," Dunne said in a statement.

"By distributing the film ourselves through our website, we can quickly get the film to those who want and need to see it and hopefully spark a dialogue about prescription drug abuse in this country."

Buying or renting the film online might be the only option for viewing "Oxyana." The film's website lists no scheduled screenings.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and local officials met with Oceana residents late last month at a town hall meeting to discuss the film.

"They got it all wrong," Goodwin said, according to the Beckley Register-Herald. "They call it a documentary, but it is actually a work of fiction."

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@ Follow him at

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