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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sean Dunne, who directed the critically acclaimed but locally despised documentary "Oxyana," is not surprised at the outrage his film has provoked, but he hopes Oceana residents will see it with an open mind and not blame him for shining a light on a serious problem.
"We were realistic that we were going to ruffle some feathers. We understood how sensitive a subject it was," Dunne said Thursday. "Now that people will have the opportunity to see the film, I think that the debate will change a little bit from like a shoot-the-messenger type situation to a debate about what this issue is and how we can help out."
Residents of the Southern West Virginia town will get a chance to see the film when it is released at www.oxyana.com on Monday.
"Oxyana" premiered in April at the Tribeca Film Festival, where Dunne won an award for best new documentary director, but it has not been shown since. Its two-minute trailer and the accompanying promotional material have angered Oceana residents, who accuse Dunne of taking advantage of them.
Among other things, that promotional material referred to the Wyoming County town as "one of God's blind spots," and "a little village in the valley of Death" that is "closer in kind to the world of a medieval plague."
Those statements no longer appear on the film's website.
"We just feel at this point the film speaks for itself and we'd rather have people focus on the message of the film than on the early message of promotional material," Dunne said. "And that's exactly what it was, promotional material. The film speaks for itself."