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The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy

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Originating with research undertaken at the Irish Film Institute Irish Film Archive, artist Duncan Campbell’s piece takes as a starting point a 1960s anthropological film study of rural Kerry to investigate and reframe contemporary Ireland.
In this work Campbell looks at some of the assumptions, ethics and misconceptions that frame the relationship between filmmakers and subjects. The piece is underpinned by extensive research into archival and documentary material, including Paul Hockings and Mark McCarty’s 1968 documentary film, 'The Village', alongside influential anthropological studies.
“The film is set at the interface of the activist perspective of the two American anthropologists and their focus on individual minds to be saved; and the communal but conservatively Catholic perspective of the people they are studying. The main character in the film is a speechless 10 year-old boy, Tomás, who is seen in the light of the tension between these two perspectives. At the heart of the film is the question of Tomás’ welfare and, if he is in need of salvation - whether this lies in tradition or modernity.” (Duncan Campbell)
As with much of Campbell’s work, this piece questions the validity of documentary form as historical representation, blurring fact and fiction, recording and interpretation.
Official Selection Berlinale 2017 - Forum Expanded


Type of film
Running Time
31 mins
Duncan Campbell
Patrick Campbell
Commissioned by
IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art), with co-commissioners Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Western Front, Canada.

Production Company

Nakba FilmWorks
Patrick Campbell
No. 4, 450 Kingsland Road
E8 4AE
+44 (0)7852 840462


Matt Carter
Waterlow Park Centre
Dartmouth Park Hill
N19 5JF
+44 (0)20 3141 2961