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  • Writer's picturePatrick Ireland

Fascism is back - Why I made 'Ill Fares The Land'

Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Why I made my short film about mermaids, migrants and the far-right...

Ill Fares The Land is a powerful, contemporary fantasy-drama that explores the 'migrant crisis' and the rise of the far-right in a small seaside town in England. Centered around the relationship between two brothers, the film blends together gritty social realism with folk fantasy and political commentary.

I grew up in a small seaside town in the South East, where Ill Fares The Land is set. Small towns have always been somewhat insulated from more ‘progressive values' and repositories for reactionary, right-wing views. However, over the last few years, something has happened in these towns – and indeed, up and down the UK…

Fascism has reemerged again.

With Ill Fares The Land I wanted to explore, with an unflinching eye, the radicalisation of these sorts of communities, set against the backdrop of the UK’s so-called ‘migrant crisis’, growing inequality and social atomisation.

The Mermaid in the film acts as a metaphor for the asylum seekers currently making the perilous journey across the English channel to reach the shores of Britain, only to be met by hatred and violence from large swathes of the native population. Fuelled by a right-wing media and collapsing living standards, these people have become lost to fascism – and alienated from their own humanity.

Ill Fares The Land is told through the eyes of a young, autistic boy who is trying to make sense of the hate and misery that surrounds his everyday existence. From his bitter father, to his ideologically-brainwashed brother, to the trauma of having to watch desperate people cross the sea in an attempt to find a better life.

But what lies at the heart of the film is the commonality between asylum seekers and the working-class communities that have turned against them. Pain.

Ultimately, Ill Fares The Land seeks to remind us that people aren’t born fascists. They become fascists as a result of the social, political and economic conditions they are forced to endure, often against their will. And furthermore, as the film’s ending tries to convey, the only way to overcome fascism is to embrace our own collective humanity and the shared experiences of love, pain, hope and despair that unite us all.

Learn more about Ill Fares The Land here.


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