Nick Broomfield’s Gripping Immigration Drama ‘Ghosts’ Marks Anti-Slavery Bicentenary

Nick Broomfield

2007 marks the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade in the former British Empire, undoubtedly one of the most important reform movements of the 19th Century. 1807 marked the beginning of the long road to the eventual abolition of slavery in the UK with the landmark act of 1833. Although slavery was finally abolished in the Americas in 1888, it is estimated that over 20 million people are still in forms of servitude today.

In Britain there are over 3 million migrant workers living and working upon whom our economy depends yet they have little or no rights or protection. The extremely timely and emotive issues of immigration and the human cost of cheap labour are explored in acclaimed director, Nick Broomfield’s new film, GHOSTS, that looks at this largely unseen side of Britain and is released by Tartan Films on 12 January.

Based on a true story, GHOSTS is a poignant portrayal of secret world that is all around us. The film is partly inspired by Hsiao-Hung Pai’s Guardian articles exposing the conditions and experiences of Chinese illegal migrants working in the British food industry, and the circumstances that culminated in the tragedy of Morecambe Bay, where 23 Chinese migrants drowned on 5 February, 2004. GHOSTS tells the story of Ai Qin, a young Chinese girl from Fujian, China who borrows $25,000 to pay the Snakehead gangs to smuggle her illegally into the UK, so she can support her son and family back in China. Once in the UK she becomes another one of the nameless legions of poorly paid non-British workers who are the bedrock of its food supply chain, construction and hospitality industries, producing and packaging food goods for British supermarkets. Labouring in slave conditions, Ai Qin and her fellow Chinese workers risk their lives for pennies and end up cockling on the Morecambe Sands at night.

At the film’s centre is an extraordinary debut performance from Ai Qin Lin, a former illegal immigrant who along with the other principal cast have drawn upon their own life experiences to give passionate and authentic performances. On the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the UK, Nick Broomfield has created a compelling drama that will challenge people’s views on the entire migrant population and have you wondering about the issue of slavery in 21st Century Britain.

Region: All
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Name: Sarah Bemand