After a year of touring and winning countless prizes, including the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival, I saw Welcome to Pine Hill, written, directed and edited by my former professor, Keith Miller.
If there was one thing I learned from Miller, it was to go with what challenges arose and work through them, to explore new territory. This film, in its creation and its narrative, does exactly that. Miller first met the star of the film, Shanon Harper, through a chance encounter, a scene that opens the film. We then follow Harper through his reformed life as an insurance claims adjuster and his diagnosis of cancer.
Throughout the film there is a beauty in the silence, in what is unsaid, much akin to a Kelly Reichardt film. Miller’s outlook, however, is that of empathy and understanding. He sees Harper as someone dealing with the circumstances, navigating heightened realities, and confronting his death. Harper eventually finds peace and the viewer is left to stew in his mortality.
All in all, from a chance encounter to a full-length film, Miller explores the many paths in life and how we should set aside our differences.