The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid
"With ageless, timeless qualities, Feargal Ward’s handsome documentary explores the clash between tradition and progress; between the rights of the individual and the perceived good of society." - Screen International
“A masterpiece of psychological storytelling.” - Forge
“Feargal Ward has crafted one of the most unique and, perhaps, indefinable pieces of cinema this year” - Independent
- Best Irish Film / Dublin International Film Festival
This portrait of an Irish farmer fighting to maintain control of his ancestral land against the machinations of a multi-national corporation offers a humanistic, psychologically-nuanced interrogation of the prevailing model of economic development in a globalizing world.
In a context of fluid international movement of capital, and a neoliberal consensus around models of economic development targeted primarily to attract it, Ireland came to epitomize the concepts. Its “Celtic Tiger” model combined a low-tax regime with other pro big business programs to target foreign direct investment, luring companies like Apple, Google, and Intel to build significant operations there. In the wake of the Great Recession, and upon revelations exposed in events like the Panama Papers and US Senate hearings on corporate tax avoidance, a growing list of experts have begun to use terms like “conduit tax haven” in reference to Ireland and other similar nations.
Thomas Reid, an eccentric farmer, emerged as a face of opposition to this model in Ireland. For several years, Reid has been locked in a fight with his neighbor, US microchip manufacturer Intel, which wants to expand onto his land. The Industrial Development Authority Ireland (IDA), charged with attracting foreign direct investment, eager to boost employment in the region, and expressive of a utilitarian view of the good, has been pliant to their wishes. Remaining evasive with him about their motives, the IDA has nevertheless done their utmost to force Reid into a sale, including slapping him with a compulsory purchase order, the equivalent of an eminent domain order in the US.
But Thomas has no intention of leaving his 300-year-old ancestral home in County Kildare, where he lives alone using traditional agricultural practices. And as importantly, he has no intention of surrendering his constitutional right to property to serve the interests of a private enterprise. Instead, he appeals the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Reid may seem a laconic throwback to a different era, but among what emerges are his concerns about ownership, economic control, exploitation of wealth, the environment, democracy, freedom, and human rights.
The Lonely Battle Of Thomas Reid offers prescient insight into the prevailing model of political economy in a globalizing world, one increasingly shaped by corporate interest and control, and a multi-layered psychological portrait of one man in its crosshairs.
86 minutes - English with English subtitles.
Directed by: Feargal Ward
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