“The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia,” director Julien Nitzberg’s crazed, unsettling and sometimes poignant group portrait of the titular Southern family, follows up last month’s New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival with a one-week engagement at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood beginning June 25.
Executive produced by Johnny Knoxville, Nitzberg’s feature is a companion of sorts to his short, deranged 1993 documentary “The Wild World of Hasil Adkins,” about the late one-man band and rockabilly primitive Hasil Adkins, who like the Whites hailed from West Virginia’s Boone County. (The Adkins film can be viewed on YouTube in three parts; start here).
The current pic focuses on the spawn of D. Ray White, a backwoods tap dancer who was murdered in 1985. His son Jesco put on his daddy’s tap shoes and, thanks to the documentary “Dancing Outlaw,” became a pop culture legend name-checked in songs by Big & Rich, the Kentucky Headhunters and Hank Williams III (who is featured in the documentary, accompanying Jesco’s dancing). Nitzberg knows these folks from way back: Jesco’s sister Mamie can be seen breaking up a bar fight between two women in the Adkins film.