The story of the town of Rossport vs Shell E&P Ireland is an all too familiar one. A big company wants to extract resources from an area and they use small cash incentives, a loose interpretation of the law, and a lot of brute force to move in, despite the objections of the inhabitants.
The documentary was directed by Risteard Ó Domhnaill. In the Q&A he told the attendees that as he lived in the area the protesters and police all knew him and you can feel the way he managed to blend into the background as you get to observe fairly unfiltered conversations throughout the film. I personally enjoy this style of documentary much more – where you get to observe the action as it happens, as opposed to the talking head interview format. The risk with the second is always that your subjects won’t be as entertaining or comfortable in front of the camera, and you are always aware that you are hearing their best recollection of events. With The Pipe you get to suffer and rejoice with the inhabitants of Rossport as they are fighting the construction of the pipe on land and at sea.
The intimacy the director/cinematographer has is reflected (at times uncomfortably and also hilariously) in the relationship the local authorities. The protesters and the enforcers of Shell’s debated right to build an inland pipe were previously close friends and neighbours, now forced to be on opposite sides of a divisive issue. Watching them fight is like watching the crumbling of a family – and we do get to see first hand that the fighting also extends to the different groups of protesters in Rossport. The battle between Shell and Rossport continues…I hope Risteard Ó Domhnaill still has his camera handy.