A documentary to look out for

Some months ago I posted here an anticipatory ramble about forthcoming Irish documentary The Pipe.  The film deals with the struggle of a community on the remote west coast of Ireland against Shell and the Irish government and how the surrounding controversies have taken their toll on the small community.  The Pipe has been doing the festival circuit in the meantime and has been officially selected for the Toronto Film Festival and saw its UK premier on 22nd October at the BFI London Film Festival.

Reviews have been encouraging, including Screen Daily’s chief critic Mark Adams’ description of the film as “delightfully shot and stirring in message.”

The film will see a general release in Irish cinemas on 3rd December.  A UK release inches closer as promotion of the film around the world gains momentum.  Today the film’s producers unveiled the official trailer.  Gripping and frightening stuff.

The Pipe: another oil company, another offshore controversy

This is not exactly the belle époque for oil and gas companies.  Since the disaster on BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig began on 20th April 2010, between 30,000 and 60,000 barrels of crude oil have reportedly been leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day and the problem has been so out of control that BP was thought to be facing backrupcy by mid-June.  We heard this morning that this flow has been slowed for now, but we’ve had false hope before and the well-documented efforts to solve this problem are ongoing.

However, this is not the only energy company causing trouble for locals along their coastline.  A new Irish documentary called The Pipe debuted last weekend at the Galway Film Fleadh to two full houses and walked away with the Best Documentary award.  The producers describe the film as the “story of a community tragically divided, and how they deal with a pipe that could bring economic prosperity or destruction of a way of life shared for generations”.  Following the personal journeys of people from the town of Rossport and Shell to Sea campaigners, the film is likely to reveal a terrifying level of intimidation and brutality which is more akin to a dictatorship that a modern democracy, as Royal Dutch Shell and Enterprise Oil Consortium attempt to bring gas ashore from the Corrib Gas Field, 80 km offshore.

Locals have been more than aware of the story for years.  Shell intends to bring gas ashore and refine it along a beautiful, remote stretch of coastline, rather than doing so at sea.  Many of the more traditionally minded locals don’t fancy it.  The government wants it.  Fishermen and protesters are attacked by masked men and brutalised by police.  A sad and frankly terrifying story about the way big companies deal with small communities.

This is a potentially explosive documentary revealing a struggle which many have dedicated a significant portion of their lives to.  See it if you get the chance.  It’s on my list.  The following clip gives you a flavour of the dramatic showdown.

Smoke and Duelling in Fife: it’s Edinburgh in time-lapse

It was a pleasure today to watch this stunning, award-winning time-lapse film of Edinburgh by Ewen Meldrum from a couple of years back. 

I take it the distubing smoke rising out of the landscape across the Firth of Forth is the power station in Cardenden, Fife, close to where the last duel on Scottish soil (!) apparently took place.  Exciting stuff.  You can see the waterfront and harbour in a few of the shots, which is of course VERY exciting because that makes this my first post which relates directly to Leith!! 

Created using thousands of photos taken over the course of two years, this film beatuifully captures the intensity of the atmosphere and environment of Edinburgh, without even touching on the haar.  I love the way he moves into occasional close-ups of houses and tenements during the night-time part, continuing to emphasise the link with human patterns of behaviour.  That’s you in there, sleeping, blogging, watching Shameless!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Koya Moments.

To Blog or not to Blog, to Save the Planet and Other Such Clichés

There’s been a lot of talk recently about diaries.  The BBC gave us a whole season on the subject, with illuminating programming which revisited the diary of Anne Frank, Roger Casement’s terrifically scandalous ‘Black Diaries’ and the undeniably fascinating journals of Kenneth Williams (pictured), among many others. 

Whether the concern is historical, such as with The Diaries of Tennessee Williams on Radio 4, or espousing the merits of writing one’s own and tips for so doing, exemplified in the Dear Diary series, the message is pretty clear: we like diaries and we should all write one.

And then there are blogs – the public, showy-offy version.  To say that blogs are de rigueur these days is so obviously an understatement that I needn’t even bother listing off recent examples; there are too many anyway.   I’ll take it that you’re convinced. 

But aside from settling on what’s worth reading, we quickly reach a problem when confronted by the plethora of blogs now online – a neurotic and especially modern problem.  What value is there in setting up yet another one, taking up that little bit more space, making the internet one blog more cluttered than it was before?  Surely one could adequately fulfil one’s sacred duty to the improvement of the internet simply by abstaining from the whole business, just as one might help the environment by laying off the beef or staying at home more (in the cold with the lights off, of course)?  Simply put, is the best kind of blog these days one that is never started?

Well, aside from the obvious ‘just make it a good blog’ solution to this conundrum, I’m going by the principle given to me by the Beeb at the license fee-payers’ expense: that it’s good to write a diary, and by that I understand blogs too. 

Anyone (read: me) who’s concerned that blogging has become clichéd and that we are overexposed to the habit should wonder whether all of those ladies and gentlemen of yore who gave us all the great diaries spent a lot of time worrying about such issues when they were writing.  I suggest that they didn’t.  Nor should we.  And besides, those yore-folk were too busy worrying about wars, God, untreatable diseases and the illegality of homosexuality. 

And as a final word in this little ode to the blog, I correct myself:  blogs might well be public and ‘showy-offy’, but there is no reason to suppose that diaries are any less so.  I grew up reading other people’s widely published diaries, for God’s sake.  So, thanks Leither Magazine for setting up this timely blogging service which I now benefit from.

And so I begin yet another one, but this one doesn’t waste paper; instead, they have a big engine in California or somewhere that powers hundreds of computers.  Oh Hell, we can’t win!  At least they’re more efficient with home heating over there!

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