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'The Pipe'—A Real Story of Ireland's Fighting Spirit

By: 
Martin Murphy - The Epoch Times

The Pipe, a documentary that follows the endeavours of a rural community in Rossport, County Mayo as they battle with Shell Oil, and the divisive effects that struggle had on a close-knit community, is set for nationwide release in Ireland on December 3rd.

This Irish documentary won the best documentary award at the Galway Film Fleadh 2010, and was warmly received by audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year. The Rossport documentary is due to feature in a limited number of cinemas in Ireland next month. If sold-out screenings of The Pipe at the BFI London Film Festival last month are anything to go by, it should be worth a viewing.

The Epoch Times caught up with the film’s producer, Rachel Lysaght from Underground Films this week, to find-out what makes this documentary worth watching.

Ms Lysaght first became interested in cinema at the age of 14, when she got a part as an extra in Braveheart, part of which was filmed at Trim castle.

“That had a huge impact on me,” said Ms Lysaght. After studying at the Samuel Becket theatre in Trinity College Dublin in 1998, she developed an interest in production work.

Like many others before her, the next step was a job where you started at the bottom and worked your way up the ladder, learning different valuable aspects of the industry on the way. “I worked my way up there from being a runner, making tea and coffee to becoming the audio producer.”

Ms Lysaghts’ first short film came in 2005, and she now works as a producer for her own production company.

So from having done costume design, to makeup, to post production, Ms Lysaght is now in production where she says you “have to be able to magically pull a rabbit out of a hat and be able to deal with problems immediately.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the film making process, the producer is tasked with finding a script and taking that project all the way from initial stages, through raising finance to hiring a talented team, and finally making sure the finished product reaches the desired audience.

“You always have to know who your ideal audience is going to be and how you are going to reach them,” said Ms Lysaght.

'The Pipe'

Risteard Ó'Domhnaill had been filming his documentary in Rossport for three years before contacting Rachel Lysaght about producing just over 14 months ago.

He sent three hours of footage that he had roughly cut together to Ms Lysaght. “I remember putting it on ... I came home from work and put on one of the DVD's at about 11 pm to have a quick scan through ... I was immediately pulled in by the story, these amazing characters, amazing people ... I watched the first hour, then the second hour, then the third; I couldn't stop watching.”

Ms Lysaght said she was emotionally engaged in the story immediately. “Straight off I really knew that I wanted to be involved in this project as it was a very important story ... one that needed to be told and it was important that It be told in the right way.”

One of the difficulties with documentaries, explained Ms Lysaght, is that you become close to the 'characters'. “Richie was in these people’s kitchens and sitting rooms for three years, in and out of very emotional and turbulent times.”

She said, “I believe that what we have achieved with this film is that it has been made with integrity and with honesty ... the film is true to the events as they unfolded.'

When the film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh, there was a huge response from the audience which numbered many people from Rossport. “We had a huge standing ovation, there were people laughing and crying, a huge emotional response.”

For anyone who goes to watch the film, she says there are sections that are very funny but there are also sections that “would break your heart.”

For Rachel Lysaght, she felt that The Pipe was a story that needed to be told—and was worth telling. “I feel myself, personally, that I did not really know what had been going on in Rossport; I thought I knew, but then when I saw those three hours of footage ... I thought this is a story that I have not seen before. It’s amazing to see what quiet heroism there is and the length that normal people will go to to stand up for their rights.”

The Pipe is being released at cinemas nationwide from December 3. The film is produced by Scannáin Inbhear with funding from Bord Scannán na hEireann / the Irish Film Board and TG4.