A Dangerous Game: “Democracy has been Corrupted by Individuals with Power”
By Javier Pérez de la Cruz
“Wherever you go in the world, democracy has been corrupted by individuals with a lot of power”, said Anthony Baxter by way of an introduction to a screening of his latest film, A Dangerous Game, at the Frontline Club on Monday 12 January.
The documentary, which follows on from Baxter’s first international success You’ve Been Trumped, depicts the devastating impact of luxury golf resort developments on local communities around the world. The film travels to locations as diverse as the historic site of Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Scottish seaside town of Balmedie, to explore how tycoons influence authorities to concede to their lucrative plans, despite opposition from the residents who are most affected.
“The spirit in that city [Dubrovnik, Croatia] against this development is huge, and that would not have happened if it had not been for these people doing that referendum, and there is no doubt that the project is stalled at the moment”, the director stated, on the subject of the activists leading the fight against powerful developers in Dubrovnik.
Baxter first started to investigate the consequences of large-scale resort developments after American tycoon Donald Trump began construction on a golf course in Aberdeenshire, North East Scotland, just 40 miles from the filmmaker’s home town. He commented, “I felt the story had not been covered in a way that represented the people on the ground, and also the environmental aspect”.
Baxter related to the audience the many difficulties he encountered while making the film, including his arrest whilst filming in Scotland. Despite obtaining access to relevant police documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the director remains in the dark regarding the reason for his arrest. He said, “the official line is that their officers were met by a challenging, difficult and unusual situation when they found this interviewer with a local resident in her property, and they felt the need to arrest us”.
In response to an audience question, Baxter said that this was not the only obstacle that he and his team had faced during the project, as Donald Trump’s lawyers had threatened to sue the BBC before they broadcast You’ve Been Trumped. Fortunately the BBC ignored threats of legal action, airing Baxter‘s previous film to a highly positive reception.
The role of former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond was also explored during the Q&A. Baxter highlighted that the golf resort under development by Trump was within Salmond’s constituency – “he drives past this site everyday” – and yet he had never visited the local community. Despite the success of You’ve Been Trumped, which highlighted the corrupt and greedy actions of Trump and fellow tycoons, Salmond is yet to demonstrate his support for this local Scottish community who have been irrevocably affected by the golf course development.
On the subject of the complicity of Scottish authorities, Baxter said: “We did not have any direct evidence of corruption of the Scottish government, but they were certainly, as David Milne, one of the local residents, says, blinded by the bling and by the promises”.
A Dangerous Game has screened at a number of film festivals worldwide, including Vancouver International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film has already demonstrated its impact: shortly after its release, UNESCO demanded that the Croatian government put a halt to all construction work until further investigations into the potential impact on Dubrovnik’s World Heritage Site have been carried out.
For more information on A Dangerous Game, including upcoming UK screening dates, click here.