Inspired by the drowning of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers in February 2004 off Morecambe Bay, Nick Broomfield’s Ghosts reveals the appalling conditions of virtual slavery endured by illegal immigrant workers in today’s Britain.
The film focuses on Ai Qin (Ai Qin Lin), a young mother from China who pays $25,000 dollars to be smuggled into the country – a process that involves a gruelling six-month journey overland. Forced to take up a series of woefully paid jobs in factories and fields, and exploited by fixers and employers alike, she then learns that the money-lenders are pressurising her family back in Fujian. Billed as Broomfield’s first dramatic feature since Diamond Skulls, Ghosts blurs the line between documentary and fiction, using hand-held cameras, natural lighting, authentic locations and non-professional actors. A sober, sincere work with a powerfully stripped-down finale.