“As far as documentaries go about asylum seekers and the immigration debate, no other is as human and evocative as SEAVIEW’ Sheffield Doc/Fest.

An hour north of Dublin beside the sea is a bizarre looking collection of grey cement buildings with brightly painted doors, and rusting fairground rides. This is Mosney – Ireland’s Coney Island. A former Butlin’s holiday camp, Mosney was once a world fully equipped for entertainment, with arcades, fairground rides, holiday chalets. It was a place where Irish families would escape the daily grind of work in order to relax, to dance, enjoy themselves. A visit to Mosney today presents a radically different picture, but still a picture of escape. 

This former holiday camp is now a camp of another kind, a holding center for asylum seekers from all corners of the globe. Here new residents wait years for the results of their asylum claims. Once brought here, how do these displaced people adapt to this strange new environment? How does this prolonged detention affect their aspirations, their ambitions, their mental health? Is this a place to begin healing, or does the uncertainty create new forms of trauma? And how does the culture of hospitality carry over with the staff, many of them working and living here for over forty years. Over three years, the filmmakers lived in Mosney, gaining the trust of the residents. Intensely close conversations reveal their individual stories, from the epic to the everyday. From Congo, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sri Lanka, we hear why people are forced to leave everything they have and move to a country where they are total strangers. And we learn of the trauma of waiting – living in fear in this bizarre no-mans-land.

Paul Rowley