The Pipe is a compelling documentary of Rossport’s struggle against the economic might of Shell and the tragic divisions that have split a once-peaceful and close knit community. Risteard Ó Domhnaill’s passionate, brave and beautifully shot documentary, produced by Rachel Lysaght (Underground Films), for Scannáin Inbhear, has already picked up the Best Documentary Award at the Galway Film Fleadh 2010, as well as being highly acclaimed by audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year. Now, hot on the heels of its success with sold-out screenings at the BFI London Film Festival last month, The Pipe goes on general release nationwide from Friday 3rd of December, with a Gala Preview taking place at the IFI on Thursday 2nd of December.
Rossport is a tiny village offarmers and fishermen in north Mayo that has, for years, been resisting Shell’s attempts to install a high-pressure pipeline to transport unprocessed gas from the massive new gas fields off the coast to an inland refinery. The government gave Shell compulsory acquisition powers over farmland in Rossport, and in June 2005, five local men were imprisoned for 94 days for defying a court order allowing Shell workers to enter their land. This set in train a cycle of protests, heavy-handed policing and a legal conflict that continues to this day. Years of protest have left bitter divisions in the community between moderate campaigners, those perceived to have ‘sold out’, and hardliners whose tactics have included direct action and a hunger strike.
For four years, Ó Domhnaill’s intimate access allowed him follow three members of the community; Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport Five and his attempts to defend the farm his father reclaimed from the bog; Monica Müller who controversially refused to join protests but whose court action has delivered a major blow to Shell; and Pat ‘The Chief’ O’Donnell, a local fisherman who is repeatedly arrested for daringly sailing his small fishing boat into the path of the gigantic pipe-layer The Solitaire. The film captures the anxiety, anger and disillusionment of years of conflict as well as their passionate connection to the local environment, and the spirit, humour and heroism that sustains them.
Fresh from three sold-out screenings at the BFI London Film Festival, director Risteard Ó Domhnaill commented ‘The aim of the film was always to provoke debate and focus discussion on the issues surrounding the Corrib Gas project, its impact on the local community and environment, and the manner in which our government put all the resources of the state at the behest of the oil companies. However, I never expected that the story of this small isolated community on the edge of the Atlantic, who nobody really gave a sod about, would have such a resonance internationally. This is not solely a story about the Corrib gas line, but about family ties; small local communities at war with each other; and the astonishing determination of the ordinary person faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. The response at international festivals has been phenomenal and I’m really looking forward to seeing what impact the story makes at home in Ireland at a time when people are re-evaluating their attitudes as to where we have gone as a country over the past 10 years.’
The Pipe is being released at cinemas nationwide from the 3rd December. The Gala Preview of The Pipe at the IFI on Thurs 2nd December will be attended by director Risteard Ó Domhnaill, producer Rachael Lysaght, and members of the Rossport community including characters from the film Willie and Mary Corduff, Pat O’Donnell, Monica Müller and Maura Harrington.
The Pipe is produced by Scannáin Inbhear with funding from Bord Scannán na hEireann / the Irish Film Board and TG4.