Issue 214
August/September/October 2020

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Oct 22, 2020

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Has HE finally been Trumped?

Anthony Baxter's cinema documentary You've Been Trumped Too was completed in 2016. Yet it is only now getting a general release. Frances Anderson explains why.

SURREY-BASED Journeyman Pictures, a UK independent distributor, has finally stepped in to provide an outlet for a brave piece of cinema. And the reason for the film's long wait for public showing? A certain shy politician named Donald Trump.

You've Been Trumped Too continues director Anthony Baxter's witty but serious documentary sequence in which he mercilessly exposes Trump's activities in Scotland. And in particular how The Donald has ridden roughshod over the inhabitants of Menie Links, near Aberdeen, where the American businessman-turned-politician has created his 'luxury golf course.'

Baxter's film centres on the wonderful, 96-year old Molly Forbes (seen right), whose water supply was cut off by Trump's employees and whose wry commentary on life provides the backbone to this gentle poke at the Great Narcissist in the White House.

A host of colourful characters are also on hand, including Molly's crofter son whose rusty tractor sends Donald Junior into a rage. And the neighbour who lives in a lighthouse, who was caught short while walking in what remains of the precious sand dunes the Trump organisation has re-positioned, only to find she had been covertly photographed peeing by Trump security.

Despite Trump's persistent attempts to get rid of them, the locals display not just fortitude but a wry Scottish sense of the absurd. For instance, after Trump brands Mexican immigrants 'rapists', the Menie resistance fighters contrive to fly Mexican flags anywhere the visiting Donald will see them. Which is why the Trump machine has done its darndest to apply pressure to block Baxter's documentary getting a cinema release – till now.

Baxter says: "As the attempted suppression of You've Been Trumped Too indicates, the harassment continues in terms of the legal threats that always hang over anyone who challenges Donald Trump's version of events. The outrageous threats can seem amusing at times but they have a chilling impact on those trying to hold him to account. As You've Been Trumped Too documents, Trump International Scotland has also used threats of legal action on a routine basis to subdue local residents."

Tayside film-maker Baxter is part of a new wave of Scottish documentary directors following the inspired example of the late, great John Grierson. Baxter – whose latest work is a stunning exposé of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan – has made this genre his own: "I am drawn to situations in which an obvious injustice has taken place, and where ordinary people have not been given a proper voice."

Baxter likes to pop up personally in his films to editorialise, or to harry Trump and his acolytes until the inevitable confrontation takes place – which famously includes Baxter being arrested on camera. The most fascinating scenes are where he interviews Trump in person. The camera catches Trump's control-freakery with spine-chilling precision.

All of which makes it remarkable that You've Been Trumped Too has languished in the cutting room for four years. In true fashion, Trump International issued threats against anyone in America who showed Baxter's movie or repeated Molly Forbes's claim about her lost water supply (though Donald Junior and Trump staff are on camera admitting as much).

As a result, Baxter found it impossible to get the normal 'errors and omissions' insurance that indemnifies distributors when a movie is shown. This led to the US movie distributor cancelling the America cinema run. Fortunately, the festival circuit was made of sterner stuff and You've Been Trumped Too was selected for the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

It is at this point the Scottish Government or Creative Scotland – which funded You've Been Trumped Too – should have intervened to help Baxter. Fortunately, Journeyman Pictures has been willing to take a punt, knowing that Trump's Twitter bark is usually worse than his legal bite.

Anthony Baxter is one of Scotland's contemporary film successes. You've Been Trumped, his earlier piece, has been translated into 10 languages and won more than a dozen awards around the world. Baxter should not have been left struggling for the past four years. The lesson here surely is that more effort has to be put into creating a bigger and more robust Scottish-based distribution industry.

You've Been Trumped Too will be released on August 18 in over 100 countries. Available on demand on iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, Journeyman VOD and Vimeo from that date.



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An extensive new preface by the Ross Herald of Arms, Charles Bunnett, Chamberlain of Duff House