Did Donald Trump restart the Obama birther question, and run for the US Presidency, to increase ratings for the season’s run of The Apprentice? Probably. America’s most notorious and grotesque money bully took his act to Aberdeen on the remote shores of Eastern Scotland and it didn’t go down well at all. Since 2006, he has tried to impose his iron will on the hardnosed ancient folk of the Scottish seaside. Anthony Baxter’s long, tough odyssey through the ‘Trumping of Aberdeen’ is a sobering documentary that calls into question the American Dream.
In his attempts to harass locals out of their ancient homes to make space for his $1.5B golf course, he showed his true colours for anyone who ever had questions about the man’s morality. He is the caricature of the Ugly American flexing his muscles abroad. He’s captured on tape advising his “people” to run unwilling folks out of their homes, to cut off water and electricity from locals who defied him/didn’t want to leave their homes.
The hero of the piece is salmon fisher Michael Forbes, who stood up to Trump in many ways, big and small. He inspired a series of portraits of himself standing firm in a kilt, and a mini golf course in which a likeness of Trump swallows the balls. Locals have supported Forbes with marches, protests and rallies and formed the Tripping Up Trump Campaign. Forbes famously invited Trump to “shove his money up his arse” and suffered for it for weeks without power and water, which comes from a spring on his own land. To this day he is being harassed, according to the Aberdeen Voice. And he never backed down for Trump’s money as so many did.
When Forbes and two other householders, including an elderly woman whose family owned the property for generations, sought help from the police and all levels of government, they were spurned and bullied. Trump called the householders “pigs” whose homes looked like “slums”. He didn’t want his golfers to have to see them out of the corner of their eyes. He had the filmmakers violently arrested and jailed even though they hadn’t broken any laws. The police appear to have been acting as private protectors of Trump and his interests.
As part of his ongoing harassment of the three withholders, Trump’s security cars parked on their properties and just stayed as an ominous presence. Earth moving machinery went in and removed fencing, buildings and property belonging to the householders. Money talks and apparently Scottish officials are as swayed by big money as anyone else, even when it meant Trump flattened the unique and last remaining dunes in Scotland, an important ecological feature.
Baxter’s documentary takes a dive down the rabbit hole as he finds himself targeted by Trump. The third defiant householder provided proof of his acts, by shooting daily scenes from her window. She captured images of Trump’s people chopping down thousands of trees and burying them. Soon she was targeted as Trump had his workers build huge dirt berms in front of her house spoiling her views.
It’s a well-made and extremely troubling depiction of a man drunk on his own power, foolish, flawed and vain, a man who relies on money and paid servants to protect him from reality and always concerned about his hair. For someone as brutality honest as he appears, he can dish criticism out, but he can’t take it.
You’ve Been Trumped has been making the rounds of film festivals and talk shows in North America. It’s won eight awards and Michael Moore chose it for his Traverse City documentary film festival. But the real payoff is that the course opened last month, and now Trump’s on the war path against a sea wind farm that spoils the view from his grotesque encampment.
You’ve Been Trumped screens at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Friday, October 26 to Thursday, November 1. Producer Richard Phinney will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A on Saturday, October 27, at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. For more info, visit youvebeentrumped.com.
Top image: A scene from You’ve Been Trumped. Courtesy Montrose Pictures.