Bafta-winning director Bill Forsyth shocked by film that reveals 'lives put to hazard and craven political behaviour' over resort
The film-maker Bill Forsyth has claimed that people living next to Donald Trump's golf course have suffered from "malign, egotistical bullying" and "craven" political behaviour comparable to living in communist-era Romania.
In an article for the Guardian Forsyth said there were striking parallels between the experiences of Trump's neighbours in Aberdeenshire and the fictional disputes in his cult classic Local Hero involving a US billionaire who wants to buy a remote Scottish beach and village.
The director, who won a Bafta for Local Hero in 1983, said that a highly critical documentary on the Trump golf course called You've Been Trumped, which will be broadcast on UK television for the first time this Sunday, had left him "dazed and shocked".
Forsyth, right, said: "We're watching real lives and livelihoods mercilessly put to hazard by a malign concoction of egotistical bullying, corporate muscle flexing, craven averting of gaze by national politicians and crass misreading of events by local authorities including police."
The documentary, which recorded Trump's neighbours losing their water supply, having vast earth walls built outside their homes and the film-makers arrested, was "a moving depiction of human survival and dignity amidst murky doings akin to seventies Romania."
Many cited Local Hero after one of Trump's most stubborn neighbours, Michael Forbes, resisted the property developer's repeated efforts to buy and demolish his home to expand the golf resort. Trump said Forbes's home was a "pigsty" and a "slum" and called Forbes "dirty" and "a loser".
In 2010, Lord Puttnam, who produced Local Hero with Forsyth, emerged as one of 60 protesters against the course who had bought small parcels of land from Forbes to thwart attempts to compulsorily purchase Forbes's home.
Forsyth writes that Trump emerged from the documentary as an unsophisticated, shallow "Johnny One Note" whose character "would have very limited utility in a sophisticated fictional drama. That's not to deny his usefulness elsewhere, say in a comparatively primitive or cheap drama."
Trump reacted to news that the documentary was being shown on BBC2 by launching a tirade on Twitter against its director, Anthony Baxter, and other "morons" who criticised his now mothballed £750m resort, which was to be built at the course.
Trump stated: "All the morons that cause the controversy in Scotlandhave made my development far more successful than anticipated."
He then added that the film, which has now been screened in US cinemas and was acclaimed by the radical filmmaker Michael Moore, had helped him "promote & make Trump International Golf Links Scotland so successful you stupid fool!" In another tweet, he told Baxter: "Your documentary has died many deaths. You have, in my opinion, zero talent."
The documentary's broadcast on Sunday night is an awkward piece of timing for the first minister Alex Salmond, once an influential supporter of Trump's £750m plan for a major golf resort in his Aberdeenshire constituency.
The Scottish National party wraps up its annual conference in Perth on Sunday, and the broadcast follows a fresh row over Salmond's formerly close relationship with Trump.
It emerged last week the first minister had written privately to Trump seeking his public support for the controversial decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Trump refused.
The pair have since fallen out publicly over Trump's repeated attacks on a government-backed offshore windfarm test site planned near his estate north of Aberdeen. Those intensified on Tuesday after Trump's lawyers threatened again to sue Scottish agencies supporting the windfarm proposal.
Trump's executive vice president and counsel, George Sorial, would not comment directly on Forsyth's remarks but said Baxter's film was "a gross misrepresentation of the facts."
Sorial said the project was widely supported by local people, business leaders and local politicians.
[Trump via Shutterstock]