You’ve Been Trumped
Controversial documentary about Donald Trump's Scottish golf course development is a triumph
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand for the past few years, you’ll no doubt be aware of American tycoon Donald Trump’s controversial plans to build a golf course and hotel complex in an area of outstanding natural beauty and scientific interest on Scotland’s Aberdeenshire coast. You might also know that the billionaire’s planning application was initially rejected out of hand by the local authorities, who took issue with what would amount to the wholesale destruction of a unique environment, only to have its decision overruled by the Scottish government, which, in an unprecedented move, gave the project the green light, citing a case for economic development.
What British filmmaker Anthony Baxter’s funny and informing and infuriating film does is put human faces to the story. Over the course of a summer of discontent, Baxter meets and befriends the handful of local residents – a farmer, a family, an elderly lady - whose homes are situated adjacent to the leisure development and documents their plucky resistance to Trump, who wants these people (who he happily refers to as ‘scum’) thrown off their land simply because their homes look, to him, unsightly. Baxter also interviews a series of scientists, environmentalist, politicians and economists, all of who refute Trump’s line – and Alex Salmond’s – that the development will benefit Scotland economically and environmentally. And finally, taking his lead from Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore, Baxter attempts – largely but unsurprisingly unsuccessfully – to interrogate Trump and his minions.
There are clear parallels to be made between the story and Bill Forsyth’s classic film Local Hero, and Baxter makes them by almost seamlessly inter-cutting footage of Forsyth’s film with his own. And in the ridiculously coffered (and just plain ridiculous) Trump, Baxter has a perfect screen villain. But where Local Hero had a happy ending, You’ve Been Trumped does not (so now we can add to Trump’s many crimes ruining our enjoyment of Forsyth’s film for the foreseeable future).
What’s really shocking about the film – and this will have you shouting at the screen – is the way in which the Scottish authorities have put the business interests of a rich American before their country and its people. And it’s almost beyond belief that they allow - and collude with - Trump in harassing the local residents – cutting of their water supply, turning the Grampian police on them - in an effort to get them to leave their land, something protestors have dubbed the new Highland clearances. All of this is, of course, utterly shameful. When Trump’s development is completed it will, aside from generate more wealth for the American, stand as a symbol of Scotland’s shame.
Showing as part of Take One Action Film Festival 2011.