Irish Film Festival: Atlantic

Lauren Thomas
22nd Mar 2017

The eye-opening documentary Atlantic, directed by Risteard O’Domhnaill and narrated by Brendan Gleeson, was awarded Best Irish Documentary at the Dublin International Film Festival. Following three fishing communities linked to the Atlantic Ocean including Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland, this film confronts the issues and devastating consequences of large companies abusing the ocean and its resources for the sake of profit.

The film is an often enraging introduction to the financial gain received by those in power who are as a result, damaging the ocean and its marine life.

Despite Norway and Newfoundland managing their ocean resources for the benefit of their populations, Ireland allowed these resources to fall into the palm of foreign private interests therefore resulting in an unfavourable outcome - a decision that the film argues was extremely foolish. Removing the veil on the long-term effects of over-fishing and oil sourcing, Atlantic tells a story that needs to be told whilst providing a voice for those who have directly been affected by strict fishing limitations.

Shining a light on corruption and the result of a poor decision by Government Legislation, Atlantic shock and enrages as it presents the negative impact major corporations are causing to the ocean and coastal communes due to their greed.

More alarmingly, however, are the laws, which appear to be overlooked by these major companies despite the evident practice of strong enforcement on individuals. “You feel like a criminal in your own island, your own country.” states local fisherman Jerry Early. Governed by restrictions on drift netting for salmon in Ireland, Jerry battles with the conviction of fishing with a net which had “the potential to catch a salmon” despite the allowance of foreign vessels to fish on the once territorial waters which as a result has contributed to a dying ocean.

With high grading and fishing malpractice becoming a major problem within these major corporations, the documentary implies breakage of the law by corporations without consequence. Due to high grading being environmentally destructive and unsustainable, this presents dangerous outcomes to an already vulnerable eco-system, which depicts abuse of the Atlantic's resources.

This has a negative impact not only on the honest working classes who are living off the sea and are being subjected to the mercy of the stock market, but the ocean life who are disturbed by "sound-blasting vessels" that scan the seabed for oil and gas. With mammals such as whales depending on their sensitive hearing to communicate, to find food and survive, not only are these strong sound disturbances frightening, they are also a threat to their survival. Travelling at hundreds of kilometers per hour and sounding every ten seconds, it is upsetting to imagine the discomfort these beautiful sea mammals endure.

With the strong possibility of the ocean and its resources reaching a point of no return if we continue to exhaust its offerings, it is important we raise awareness about the importance of implementing long-term sustainable practices. Atlantic is a wonderful addition to the education system. It would benefit being showcased to a mass audience to encourage awareness.

Showcasing the beautiful ocean and the natural wonders of the Atlantic, this documentary presents real people and their circumstances via interviews, filming their daily routines as well as important footage taken from public Government processes, and historical footage which complement the story-telling nicely.

Presenting an in-detail film that activist and director O’Domhnaill is evidently very passionate about, Atlantic appeals to everyone's inner humanitarian. This documentary, although controversial, is essential in educating those who wish to contribute to the sustainability of our planet as a whole.

Atlantic is screening as part of the 3rd Annual Irish Film Festival, taking place in Sydney March 29th to April 2nd. See the Sydney Scoop calendar for screening details.