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Inspired by anthropological studies into the huge incidence of mental illness in rural Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy revisits Paul Hocking and Mark McCarty’s 1968 production The Village. Seen through the eyes of two American anthropologists who arrive at Dún Chaoin, a small village in the west of Ireland, to study its dying culture, the film is a portrait of a society on the brink of irreversible change. It revolves around the protagonist, Tomás, a speechless 10-year-old boy, whose life spans the cusp of the old world and the new. Meanwhile the anthropologists question their own methodology as they struggle to get beyond the opaque and ritualistic social relations that define this place as the local community mistrusts and misconstrues their intentions.
Duncan Campbell, born in 1972 in Dublin, Ireland, is a video artist based in Glasgow. He trained at the University of Ulster and the Glasgow School of Art. His work is often based on intense archival research and questions how history bears on the present. In particular, he uses his films to explore how social, political, and personal narratives are constructed and relayed over time. His work has been awarded and showcased in solo and exhibitions at venues worldwide.
Production: Nakba FilmWorks, London; Fastnet Docs, Dublin
Screenplay: Duncan Campbell
Camera: Rina Yang
Cast: John O’Sullivan, David Murray, Frank Bourke, Lesa Thurman
Running time: 31 min
Photo: © Duncan Campbell