HOME: Treasa O'Brien

Treasa O’Brien’s 'ethno-fictional’ documentary film The Blow-In, made in the small town of Gort in the west of Ireland, features residents conversant in four languages: French, Portuguese, Irish, and English.

Gort was notable for having the most nationalities in Ireland relative to population and for being badly hit by government programmes of economic austerity. ‘Blow-ins,’ a term denoting recent arrivals to a community, suggests the precarity and instability that occurs in finding oneself in changed circumstances and new surroundings. O’Brien’s film features Véronique, a Frenchwoman living in Gort for the past six years, who still doesn’t feel at home, and whose sense of estrangement predates her arrival from France. She looks into the windows of her neighbours to see what a ‘real home’ is like, and spies a woman promising her dog a visit back home to Brasil “when Mommy has the documentation that allows her to leave and re-enter Ireland.” 

A married couple speak of their shared experiences of having settled in the town, while a young Romanian woman and an older Irishman, born and raised in Gort, converse over a cup of tea. In drifting from window to window, Véronique witnesses fleeting vignettes of day-to-day life, always from the perspective of an eternal outsider. “I think that when you are a stranger,” she explains, “your way of looking always stays fresh.” The film thus questions what it means to be ‘at home,’ and how such issues remain ever pertinent in the context of rising nationalism and the closing of borders within the European Union.