"highlighting both a sense of multiculturalism and the failed dream of a promised new horizon"
A Town Of Strangers opens with a scene in which an individual drives around the town of Gort, Ireland, putting out a very public casting call for the film which you are already watching. It’s an odd opening but neatly sets up the somewhat postmodern structure of this unique and curious yet slight documentary.
The individual in question is director Treasa O’Brien and she features herself throughout whilst living in the aforementioned van and interviewing some of the inhabitants of the rural Galway town. Gort it transpires has both a high mix of nationalities amongst its population and is also badly hit by austerity. That aside it comes across as an unremarkable place, even to the point where O’Brien admits in a local radio interview that she is not really sure what drew her to the place initially other than from originating from a small town herself.
Then again, that might be the point – the few individuals interviewed have their roots in Brazil, England, Afghanistan and Portugal amongst others, highlighting both a sense of multiculturalism and the failed dream of a promised new horizon.
Their stories are varied and unique to them whilst O’Brien’s own narrative of creating the film runs alongside it. We also see one individual re-creating a scene in which he was beaten – an odd technique that we first saw in The Act Of Killing and The Look Of Silence – two groundbreak documentaries by Joshua Oppenheimer who also acts as Executive Producer.
Overall though it’s a curious documentary – not without merit or meaning, but not involving or significant enough to truly resonate.