GORTAHORK, Donegal Co., Ireland, June 16, 2011

In this small coastal town in picturesque Donegal county where even the fairies in the bogs still speak Gaelic,
so it is said, young film makers gather each year to screen the kind of documentaries people everywhere
should see - but rarely do.
                      This year the main theme at the Guth Gafa (Give a Voice) international documentary Film Festival
gave audiences a startling peek into what happens when governments and corporations ignore the legitimate
protests of concerned citizen. As everyone knows not all protesters go home, curse official intransigency and
drink another pint – or two.
                      Disillusioned, angry and convinced of their civic rights and the justice of their cause some protesters
eventually resort to more radical methods in order to be heard. Such people are then quickly classified and persecuted by
officialdom and its loyal serfs - our mass media - as ‘terrorists.’
                      
The Gortahork documentaries made it clear the true tragedy of our times is unbridled corporate
greed, practiced in partnership with governments made up mainly of corporate stooges. Without consulting its
electorate this unholy alliance expropriates the common wealth, disenfranchises individual property rights
ignores the indignation of those it has robbed and then, by an ultimate act of injustice, reclassifies and
prosecutes victims who protest as criminals.
                    The essence of this modus operandi is depicted in the American documentary Better this World’ in
which two college boys fall under the spell of a ‘senior revolutionary’ who is identified in the subsequent court case
as an undercover FBI informant. Under his tuition the two boys, David McKay and Bradley Cowder, fabricate Molotov
cocktails. The two did not use these petrol bombs, yet both were labeled terrorists and both were
jailed.                                     
                  Filmed by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane the documentary bares the dark side of our so-called ‘War on
Terror’ which has diluted if not erased many civil liberties and restricted political dissent. For those who believe secret
services and police often deliberately provoke or concoct violence ‘Better this World’ is one more piece of damning
evidence.
                   On the other hand
‘Wiebo’s War’ (David York) illustrates violent protest can result in undesired
collateral damage, like the girl shot dead while trespassing on the property of  the Ludwig family in northern Alberta,
Canada. The Ludwigs, a fundamentalist Christian sect, built their homes in the wilderness, unfortunately on top of huge
natural gas reserves.
                   
Some of the worst crimes against peoples’ property rights and the environment are committed
today by the indiscriminate corporate search for lucrative new energy, mainly natural gas.
                      In the documentary ‘The Pipe’ (Risteard O’Domhnaill) the small Rossport community in Ireland is
battling to stop Shell Oil running its new gas pipeline from the sea through its land. The stand-off has divided the
community between those who want to preserve their pristine countryside (and their health) and demand the pipeline be
laid through uninhabited areas (which the company refuses to do) and those who see financial benefits and jobs as a
byproduct of this new industry. The result: A huge police presence.
                      
‘Gasland’ narrates the odyssey of Josh Fox across the United States where he discovers almost the
entire nation has most of its water resources polluted by ‘fracking’ the hydraulic fracturing of underground rocks with
toxic chemicals to release the trapped natural gas that is to become America’s new energy source if the corporate
giant Halliburton (formerly headed by ex vice-president Dick Cheney) has its way. Home owners show Fox how their water
bursts into flames when a lit match is held to it. Yet their protests are ignored or tied up in paperwork.
                     If there is a positive side to these tales of environmental vandalism it is growing universal awareness that our
planet’s eco-system is being devastated and polluted by unscrupulous industrial conglomerates and their political
henchmen.
                   Brian Hill’s
‘Climate of Change’ focuses on people fighting every day against global warming, from
Indian students organizing recycling projects to lobbyists in the U.S. protesting strip-mining to people in Papua New Guinea
who refuse commercial logging in their rainforests.
                 
In a small but significant way the documentary fest in this little town, where men still play the fiddle
at night in the pub for a free beer, contributes to greater awareness of the crimes committed against the
planet and its inhabitants - all under the guise of progress but in reality in the name of making fortunes for just
a few.
GIVE A VOICE