By Robert Stevens:
Ghosts—a harrowing and honest depiction of modern slavery
17 March 2007
Ghosts, directed by Nick Broomfield, screenplay by Nick Broomfield and Jez Lewis. Based on articles by Hsiao-Hung Pai.
Nick Broomfield’s Ghosts, about the fate of undocumented Chinese workers in the UK, is a powerful work.
The semi-factual account is constructed around the drowning deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers who were caught by incoming tides at Morecambe Bay, England in February 2004.
Shown at the Sundance film festival in the United States in January, it was the first film to be screened at the 2006 San Sebastián International Film Festival, whose main theme was immigration.
The film is something of a departure for Broomfield, who is normally associated with documentaries in which he takes a confrontational role, often in front of the camera.
His previous efforts include two feature-length documentaries about the South African fascist Eugene Terreblanche.
He also directed Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, about Aileen Wuornos, who was found guilty of killing seven men in the US.
The film explored her case and its exploitation by the mass media. It included footage revealing her to be insane at the time of her execution.
Ghosts is a slang term used by the Chinese to describe Caucasians, but in the context of the film it is also a description of the army of immigrants who are forced to undertake the most menial and low-paying jobs whilst remaining hidden from official society.
The inspiration for Ghosts came from a series of articles on the Morecambe Bay tragedy by journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai featured in the Guardian.
During his research for the subject, he went undercover as an undocumented worker.
Serial killers: here.
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