Cahir’s Risteard Ó Domhnaill is the rarest of breeds. He is a documentary film maker with the ability to go beyond the spin and propaganda, with a keen eye for the smaller personal details that are at the heart of every massive news story.
These attributes served him admirably when producing and directing The Pipe, a brilliantly illuminative documentary about the community at the centre of the Corrib Gas controversy.
The documentary went on to win numerous awards including the IFTA Award for Best Documentary and the International Green Award, and to date has screened in twenty-five countries on four continents. The reasons behind its success are clear; it shone a light into the dark underbelly of political and corporate relationships and, yet, it did this through the telling of immensely personal stories that resonated far beyond the shores of north-west Mayo.
Risteard is a true independent and has decided to forgo more traditional funding routes for his next documentary. He will, instead, appeal directly to his audience through a Fundit campaign.
“I think if you want to retain a truly independent voice and have absolute control over the finished documentary then approaching the audience directly is worth exploring,” says Risteard.
“Crowdsourcing will allow me to retain full creative control over the project, while also getting the audience on board from the very beginning.”
Risteard’s new documentary, On The Horizon, is, in a way, a follow-on to The Pipe. While The Pipe explored the impact of decisions taken in government and industry, at a time and place far removed from the community of Rossport; On The Horizon will investigate the decisions themselves, taken back in the 80s and 90s, and from there visit communities who will have to live with the impact of those decisions as they lie on the verge of transformation by the emerging oil and gas industry.
Given Risteard’s success with The Pipe, his penchant for telling deep personal stories, beautifully intertwined in a broader narrative, his determination and clear independent voice, one can only hope that there are enough people out there who do believe in him. It would be to Ireland’s eternal shame if the questions he so longs to ask were never answered. Following the premiere of the film, which is aimed for the summer of 2014, Risteard will take the film “to every town and village in the country”.