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Obstructed View

This Magazine Staff

[Hot docs media downloads are down, at least here in the Reference Library. So no photo for you!]
Last night I watched another slow-paced doc about migrants — this time, asylum seekers — and I was lulled into such a deep ravine of slumbererous sludge I couldn’t even bring myself to get up and leave. I should have brought a pillow and caught up on my sleep.
Seaview sucked all the more poignantly because of its potential. Seaview is a former holiday resort built after World War II on Ireland’s coast where middle class English families could go for cheap vacations. 6000 people could live there at a time. Now Seaview has about 800 residents — asylum seekers who wait up to six or seven years to find out whether Ireland will grant them entry as refugees. Only one in ten is accepted, allowed to join the 5% of foreigners in Ireland who are also refugees.
The situation is melancholy. Extremely. So melancholy that for what seemed like two thirds of the film, directors Nicky Gogan and Paul Rowley’s cameras trained principally, sentimentally, even obsessively on empty chairs, empty swimming pools, empty hallways. Yes, I got the point: this place is a horrible institution to live day in and day out. The problem was they put the baby in sulphuric, muddy bathwater (leaving only one option). They confused the institution being unbearable with the documentary being unbearable. Now even my review is belabouring the point!
Okay, all that said, there were several watchable bits: Images of a man on a hunger strike who refuses to speak; bright-eyed children only slowly discovering the miseries of institutional life; a little-too-crude selection of refugees saying how desperate they were to work and contribute taxes instead of burdening the Irish taxpayer.
Hoping for better fare today. Meanwhile, Seaview does play again, Thursday at 2 at Isabel Bader, in case you’re suffering from daytime insomnia.

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