PODCAST| Matt Micucci interviews Feargal Ward and Tadhg O’Sullivan, director and co-writer of the film The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid.
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Feragal Ward and Tadhg O’Sullivan presented their latest documentary, The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, at the 30th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) – Ward directed the film and they both co-wrote it. The Thomas Reid of the title is an Irish farmer locked in a legal battle with a U.S. multi-national company eager to force him to sell his land. “There aren’t too many types of story in the world,” says O’Sullivan in this interview, “and what I liked about teasing this film was that the story is quite simple.” The space within the dramatic moments allows us to really get to know Thomas Reid and what it’s like to be him: “Beneath the oddness, and the strangeness, there is a universal humanity that comes through.” Ward talks about Reid not being very excited about the project and the difficulties of maintaining a level of trust with him throughout the filming stage. He also talks about the use of re-enactments: “I was quite fascinated with the language of the legal process … and I wanted [it] to be represented on the actual lands in which this legal discourse was about.” In the end, what was important about The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid was the truth. “You’re always taking the queue, to my mind, from how … your character perceives the world in the given psychological state that he is in in the moment of the film,” O’Sullivan says. In this interview, Ward and O’Sullivan also talk about whether Thomas Reid’s story is common in Ireland, where they hope their film will travel in the future, and more.
The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid: For years, the Irish farmer Thomas Reid has been locked in a grueling battle with his neighbor, U.S. microchip manufacturer Intel. The multinational wants to expand and has its eye on Reid’s land. Eager to boost employment in the region, the Irish authorities are doing their utmost to force Reid into a sale. But the farmer has no intention of leaving his 300-year-old ancestral home, where he lives alone, surrounded by cows and chickens. The desaturated color, the soundtrack with snippets of radio shows, and the unorthodox reimaginings of courtroom scenes produce an intriguing and slightly alienating effect. Director Feargal Ward follows the calm rhythm of farm life, which seems to stem from a different age. Traffic roars by beyond the stone walls that mark the boundaries of Reid’s land, but he travels everywhere on foot or on his old bicycle. His house is crammed with hoarded junk and he appears to live in chaos. Nevertheless, this tenacious eccentric proves to be a formidable opponent of the system.