New Internationalist

Ghosts

January 2007

Cheap food needs cheap – often illegal – labour. Broomfield’s drama is about the human cost, and it reeks authenticity.

So, to play illegal Chinese workers in Britain, he casts non-professional actors who had themselves been illegal entrants. A risky strategy, but then his actors are superb – especially Ai Qin Lin, as Ai Qin, who has paid smugglers $25,000 dollars and left her child behind.

Broomfield never forces anything, and his story – based around the drowning of 23 Chinese cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay in 2004 – arises naturally from their circumstances. And, filming in real locations like meat plants and shitty (sometimes literally) overcrowded hovels, he creates a powerful feeling of entrapment and exclusion.

He pulls it off admirably – this is sickeningly convincing, but not without hope.

This column was published in the January 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Ghosts

Leave your comment