MICHAEL Campbell, a septuagenarian farmer in Zimbabwe who employs hundreds of people, has been dragged into a monumental conflict against his will. In recent years, as a result of president Robert Mugabe’s “land reform” policy, the country’s white farmers have been intimidated, attacked and forced off their land.
Having spent two decades paying for his farm, Campbell digs in and refuses to bow to the real threat of violence, taking the case to an international court in Namibia. Campbell’s relationship with his family and employees is well-drawn, while Mugabe’s presence seems omnipotent – from his smiling posters to his incendiary public speeches and in the presence of his poised legal team.
There’s genuine suspense both in Campbell’s everyday life as an endangered species, and in the tantalisingly brief courtroom scenes.
This well-crafted documentary is a double-think: It’s at once an unnerving document of institutional injustice, and an inspiring story of courage and defiance. AFTER A recent run of dire Irish releases, it’s a pleasure to welcome this highly original and tonally assured, if somewhat slight, debut feature from Margaret Corkery.
Largely set in and around a windy Wicklow beach, Eamon details the complex, sometimes queasy interactions between a young boy (Robert Donnelly), his unfocused mother (Amy Kirwan) and her permanently grumpy partner (Darren Healy).
We begin with Grace, mother of the mischievous Eamon, receiving the keys to a holiday cottage from her disapproving mother. Almost broke, the dysfunctional threesome make their way to the quaint, if basic cabin for a few days of bickering, boozing and casual surrealism. The adults get in a fight with a barman. Eamon becomes part of a nauseatingly enthusiastic youth leader’s gambolling posse. Faint hints of casual menace gather over the unwelcoming Irish Sea.
On one level, the film is an amusing sketch of a class of superseded Irish holiday that few adults remember with any fondness: bad food, miserable pubs, too many grudgingly purchased soft drinks. More seriously, Eamon gets to grips with the unspoken hostility, born of intrusion, that often simmers between young children and their inexperienced parents.
But the film works best as an exercise in creative absurdity. Boosted by clean, primary-hued camerawork from Paki Smith and wistful music by Colin J Morris– alternately strummy and ambient – Eamon has barely enough plot to fill its 85 minutes, but the sincerity of its makers’ intent is never in doubt. A promising start.