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Film Review – Atlantic

Jordan -

“Old ocean, none knoweth thy story; man cannot thy secrets unfold”

Atlantic, the new film by Risteard O’Domhnaill (The Pipe, 2010) which is screening at this years Sydney Film Festival on the 18th and 19th June, traces the fortunes of three small fishing communities on the isolated coasts of Ireland, Newfoundland and Norway, as each reacts to increased pressure on their resources while their governments dictate the terms by which revenue generated from multinational super-trawler fishing, and later oil rigs stay on home soil.

There is a frustration explored that a renewable resource, the most important type of energy that we need in food, is being either mass-harvested or detrimentally effected by underwater seismic blasts to the point of drastic marine change, with changes in legislation serving mainly to limit local catches. In the case of Ireland, families placed by these waters hundreds of years ago can no longer viably support themselves, and, after a ban on drift netting for wild salmon, each time outspoken local Jerry early sets out on his vessel to do all that he has ever known, he risks prosecution while watching foreign behemoths reel in tons of Irish fish the horizon. There is a difficult balance between environmentalism and employment, and the reaction to a cod fishing ban in Newfoundland is powerful, as those impacted could see the long term economic effects that the parliament thought little of. Oil rigs would appear the saviour for the young men whose livelihoods are really secured, but even then they’re at the whim of oil prices and mining a finite income.

Beautiful images of the crushing seas and natural wonder heighten the viewer’s connection to a documentary that highlights an important issue, even if its ambition outweighs its reach. There is a wealth or material here, and the time spent at each of the three locations never feels long enough to fully comprehend the history of the issue, though the men chosen to express their concerns do so in earnest, and the narration spoken by Brendan Gleeson is an intriguing mix of precise and poetic.

After breaking crowd funding records in Ireland, and subsequently being funded by the Irish Film Board, Atlantic was distributed in Ireland with sold out cinema runs to an audience obviously invested with the cultural and monetary impact of the countries sovereign waters being pillaged by multinational big oil and fishing companies, with little profits being returned to the people after overly generous tax write-offs that sped the decline of the local fishing communities. This is a film made in these generational communities and for the benefit of the people that call them home – paying respect to the homes and the land that they sit on, by the frosty waters once teeming with fish that were the pride of a community, and now out of reach.

4 seismic blasts out of 5

For more information on The Atlantic’s showings at this weekends Sydney Film Festival, or to grab tickets to the screenings visit –

To read more about the film itself please visit the films official website at –


Posted Date: 
20 June 2016