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Saturday, May 7, 2016 - 4:45pm


Risteard Ó Domhnaill | 
Ireland |
 2015 | 
75 minutes

With the TPP and CETA about to be ratified, this compelling exploration of the fate of the fishing and oil industries in three Atlantic nations (Ireland, Norway, and Canada) is a timely and cautionary tale about the downside of global trade agreements. The film starts with the collapse of Canada’s cod fishery in the early 1990s when the government maddeningly closed it to Newfoundland fishers while allowing European industrial trawlers to stay on — all so Canada could sell wheat abroad. It then moves to Ireland, where small fishers were completely abandoned by their government after joining the European Common Market. Prudent Norway did not join, choosing instead to protect its sovereignty and fishers — both of which thrived. When Norway discovers offshore oil, a judicious decision to invest control of the industry into government hands again ensures Norwegians are the beneficiaries. Poor Ireland, alas, is given short shrift again by government (and a corrupt politician) when oil is discovered offshore, but Newfoundland fares much better thanks to pitbull premier Danny Williams whose government takes semi-control of the resource (much to the annoyance of the feds). When the film shifts to how Norway ended big oil’s use of sonar shooting in Arctic waters (an ocean floor mapping technique that endangers marine life), we’re able to see how outdated the political views are that pit economic growth against sustainability. The recent return of stock to Newfoundland reassures that it’s possible for communities and oceans alike to survive if we balance economic needs with the imperative of nature. Director Ó Domhnaill smartly chooses to tell this story through three articulate characters (one fisher from each country) rather than a barrage of voices. Supported by thorough archival research, great cinematography, evocative music, and spare narration balefully delivered by Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, Atlantic hits both an emotional and intellectual mark. -MB


Risteard Ó Domhnaill

Risteard Ó Domhnaill is a director and cameraman based in the West of Ireland, with a degree in Theoretical Physics from Trinity College Dublin and a degree in Irish Language and History from the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is the director of his company Scannáin Inbhear Teo. His latest feature documentary Atlantic looks at the threat posed to the ocean’s ecosystem from oil exploration and overfishing.