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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson at RIFF 2011

It’s a noteworthy irony that one of the eco-documentary films awarded at this year’s Reykjavik Film Festival is ECO-PIRATE: The Story of Paul Watson (2011), a film that focuses on the notorious eco-pirate, Paul Watson, who once had been named ‘persona non grata’ in Iceland after he had sunk two whaling ships in the Reykjavik harbor in 1988. The film tackles a heated political debate from the 1970’s till present day about the whaling industry, which is responsible for decimating the world’s oceans of its whales to near extinction.

On October 01, 2011 the award winning Canadian documentary about the egotistical but exemplary environmental activist was awarded a Special Jury Mention, a positive twist of fate in the long controversy between the Eco-Pirate versus the Icelandic (and global) whaling culture. The RIFF Jury stated this about the film: “Eco Pirate: The Paul Watson Story is an epic tale of a one man’s struggle against the exploitation of the oceans, and at the same time provides a unique observation of four decades of the environmental movement Greenpeace. The film is a traditional documentary that deals with its subject matter with profound care, well balanced structure and historical subplots”.

The film also confronts the abysmal situation of all sea life (all fish and coral reefs), that live under constant threat of extinction due to overfishing and pollution of the oceans. While Watson is the enemy to whalers and the fishing industry, he is one of the few who has made the fight for the ocean’s safety his personal goal and a cause higher than himself or his own family, to the point of obsession. An ex-worker of Green Peace, which he now deems ‘the Avon Lady’ of environmental movements, Watson opened his own company, Sea Shepherd, in order to fight violence with violence. He argues that wars were never won with silence in the face of aggression; rather, the only way for this environmental war to be won will be through force and scare tactics to its affronters. Whether he is right or wrong, he points out the fact that without such controversial and courageous figures as he, little is being done to change a dire and near irreversible situation.

During the RIFF festival, the film’s editor Brendan Woollard came to support the film. When I spoke with him about his views on the current environmental hazards taking place he pointed out that equally worrying as the whaling industry is the fishing industry and the continuous annihilation of the world’s sea life. What can be done? Well, watching films about the matter and educating oneself is a start, fighting iron fisted industrialism and industry with awareness and being as active as possible.

The film is directed by producer Trish Dolman and was produced by Kevin Eastwood and Michael Brook and it features footage of Paul Watson in action and interviews from over the past 30 years to present day.

Written by Vanessa McMahon, October 01, 2011


Editor Brendan Woollard at RIFF 2011


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