After a collaboration spanning Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland (Canada), award-winning director Risteard O’Domhnaill (The Pipe, 2010) is excited to launch his new feature-length documentary, Atlantic, narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Brendan Gleeson.
After previously taking a behind-the-scenes look at Ireland’s Corrib Gas controversy, O’Domhnaill realised that a wider story of resource mismanagement was emerging — one that needed to be told for the sake of coastal communities everywhere.
Atlantic, which started as an ambitious crowdfunding project and is now backed by Bord Scannán na hÉireann (The Irish Film Board), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation and Nordnorsk Filmsenter (the North Norwegian Film Centre), is that story.
Atlantic debuted at the Dublin International Film Festival 2016, winning Best Irish Documentary.
Atlantic follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities as they struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of mounting economic and ecological challenges. As the oil majors drive deeper into their fragile seas, and the world’s largest fishing companies push fish stocks to the brink, coastal people and the species they rely on may be reaching a point of no return.
In Norway, fishermen and their resource have historically been aggressively protected by national authorities. But as oil fields dwindle and the country now looks to add to its reserves, Arctic cod fisherman Bjornar Nicolaisen is campaigning against seismic testing by the oil explorers criss-crossing his fishing grounds to find the riches beneath. On the outer edges of Norway’s five-star economy, seismic blasting is threatening to blow Bjornar’s livelihood out of the water.
Across the ocean in Newfoundland, where an oil boom has hit, fisherman Charlie Kane and his brothers will likely be the last of their generation to work the sea, after a cod fishing ban in the 1990s brought their world-renowned industry to a halt overnight. Yet Charlie is thankful his sons can now make a good living on the oil rigs, and won’t need to toil in small boats on Newfoundland’s perilous Grand Banks. But now, as oil prices plummet, their village is once more taking on water, as the the quick money of the black gold rush begins to run dry. Meanwhile on the west coast of Ireland, Jerry Early has seen the heart ripped out of his island after a ban on drift netting for wild salmon. As he fights to regain his fishing rights, he’s up against a government which takes orders only from the European Union. As foreign super-trawlers operate with impunity just offshore, Jerry feels like a criminal on his own boat. The circumstances could be dire if he defies the new order of the ocean, but as the unofficial “mayor” of a dying island, Jerry feels he has to face up to powerful interests before it’s too late.
Filmed in some of the most remote and breathtaking locations in the North Atlantic, and at close quarters with some of the sea’s most captivating characters, Atlantic will bring the very personal stories in the vital resource debate to the fore, exploring how three modern day communities must learn from the past, in order to secure a brighter future.