Victoria Film Festival: The Pipe

The small Irish village of Rossport is an idyllic coastal community home to farmers and fishermen alike.

(Ireland, 2010, 83 min.) The small Irish village of Rossport is an idyllic coastal community home to farmers and fishermen alike. To the eyes of executives at Shell Oil, it’s also the ideal spot for the undersea Corrib Gas Pipeline to come ashore. That decision sets off a years-long struggle between locals and the industrial titan, a story which is unflinchingly told in this documentary.

Cameras follow the villagers as they explore every possible avenue to keep the project from happening. We’re introduced to the “Rossport Five”, a group of men who were jailed for three months in 2005 for blocking construction.

In between clashes with police and Shell security teams, cracks begin to show in the solidarity of the  locals. Repeated attempts by villagers to meet and discuss their options devolve into shouting matches and accusations of cowardice. All the while, Shell remains silent — the company declined to participate in the making of the film.

Director Risteard O’Domhnaill, doing double-duty as the film’s videographer, made a great choice in choosing not to narrate. Instead, he lets the principle characters in this real-life drama speak for themselves.

Without a voice from Shell, viewers are left to draw their own conclusions about the company’s motivation, and level of consideration — or lack thereof — for the residents of Rossport. What remains is a David vs. Goliath story, only this time Goliath seems to have the upper hand.

12:15 p.m. Sat. Feb. 4, Odeon Theatre