Award winning documentary angers people in Bates County town

RICH HILL, Mo. — Not every Hollywood movie premiere is met with fanfare. An award-winning documentary has been released — and people in Rich Hill say it makes them look bad.

The film won major praise at the Sundance Film Festival, but in Bates County, the same admiration doesn’t apply.

The documentary ‘Rich Hill’ paints a picture of that Bates County town that isn’t to everyone’s liking. In January, the film won the prestigious Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Fesitval.

It follows the lives of three teenage boys who are confronted with big issues — such as poverty, crime and family members doing jail time.

Folks we caught up to at one local insurance office aren’t pleased with how their town looks on film.

“The next thing I hear is that they’re slammin’ Rich Hill, saying the people there have been poverty-bound and restricted,” resident Barbara Robinson said.  “It’s asking, asking, ‘How can these kids escape the claws of poverty?’”

“They look down their nose at the small town because we are small town people,” resident Bill Reed said. “We’re just as important as they are. We pay our taxes.”

On the other hand, Larry Hacker is waiting to build his opinion. He supported the production of the documentary, and believes the publicity could be good for the struggling town.

“I don’t think it was in any way, shape or form meant to enhance or promote Rich Hill as anything,” Hacker said. “It just happened to be the location the movie was filmed at.”

Hacker said he plans to see the film this weekend. Robinson said she won’t watch.

“You don’t turn around and bite the hand that feeds you, to speak of,” Robinson said.

FOX 4 News heard back from Tracy Dros Tragos, one of the film’s co-producers. She said, “I hope all those concerns will be soothed when people see the film.”

Learn more about the film here.

Check out Sean McDowell’s FOX 4 Facebook page here.

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