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Customer Review

on 20 May 2007
This film did not get a full cinema release and the fact that it has not yet received the publicity it rightly deserves is an absolute crime. In the age of attention-grabbing sensationalised docu-cinema (Fahrenheit 911, Super Size Me, The Yes Men et al.) a film such as Ghosts, which tells the truth in such an objective and gripping way is a breath of fresh air.

Seasoned documentary-maker, Nick Broomfield manages to produce a piece of dramatic cinema which captures the essence of his documentaries, but involves the audience much more intimately with the subjects than has been possible in his previous work. From the use of a non-professional Chinese cast, through the purposely shaky camera work and even to the slightly poorly acted role of the English landlord whose property is crammed with 15 'illegals', this film just seems real.

Ghosts is very now and very timely, given the recent 200th anniversary of the abolition of the legal slave trade. It serves as a reminder that there are still millions of people throughout the world living under the control of money-lenders/gang-masters, below the radar of the general public and in the turned blind eye of their employers who get a plentiful supply of cheap labour.

Ghosts is extremely moving and most viewers will sympathise with the plight of the lead character, Ai Qin and indeed with the alleged 3 million illegal workers who are locked in to a life of hard labour in the UK's primary industries in order to pay debts which they may never clear and who may never see their homelands or families again. If anyone goes away from this film with anything but a desire to help them it will be a disappointment. At the very least I hope Ghosts will go someway to quell the increasing hostility towards immigrants in the UK; I hope that once people see the human story behind the politico-economic issue, they will think twice before criticising them.

The film's lack of publicity may be down Broomfield's lack of funding when compared to the aforementioned films which were all financed in the US. Another possibility may be that, even given the analogy with the popular docu-films, this is still in fact a dramatisation, meaning perhaps one of Broomfield's documentaries would have fared better in the current box office climate (even though this would have been impossible for this particular story).

All said, Ghosts is by far the best Nick Broomfield work I have seen and I get the feeling that it will be one of those films that increases in popularity over time purely due to word-of-mouth.
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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