Irish Film Review: Atlantic



DIR: Risteard O Domhnaill • PRO: Marie-Therese Garvey • ED: Nigel O’Regan 

Following his much lauded debut documentary, The Pipe, about the Corrib Gas controversy in the northwest coast of Ireland, Risteard O Domhnaill returns to the topic of resource mismanagement, this time taking on the impact of the oil industry and fishing restrictions on small scale fishermen across the Atlantic. Focusing on fishing towns across Ireland, Newfoundland and Norway, O Domhnaill presents the plight these fishermen face in the aftermath of the overfishing of the ’70s and ’80s. With stringent laws that favour highly profitable but ecologically disastrous fishing trawlers and the invasive drilling of multi-national oil companies, the more traditional net fishing practices are dying out along with ever-growing species of fish. New generations favour work on oil rigs which is, ironically, killing the very fishing traditions they come from. Like a Möbius strip, the issue is cyclical and ever twisting.

As in The Pipe, O Domhnaill utilises affecting characters to draw us into these small communities and their quandary. Despite the hardships these fishermen have already faced and the bleak future their livelihoods appear to hold, they never come across plaintive, but rather insightful, humorous and brimming with integrity. The individual voice is key. Stunning aerial photography transports us across the great ocean – weaving into and under, offering breathtaking glimpses of the life within it – until the camera settles beautifully on the small towns, the stillness echoing the sense of loss in the already dwindling communities.

Never one to shy away from those culpable, O Domhnaill shines a strong light on those in power, both past and present. Archive footage brings on home the flippant attitude of times past and our own mishandling of resources. Norway offers a beacon of hope with a government seemingly in tune with its country’s coveted resources from the outset. But it is a complex and difficult fight and something we all need to be more aware of.

Tess Motherway

138 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

Atlantic is released 29th April 2016

Atlantic – Official Website






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