Ghosts (2006 film)

Ghosts (2006 film)

Infobox Film
name = Ghosts

image_size =
caption = DVD cover
director = Nick Broomfield
producer = Nick Broomfield
Jez Lewis
writer = Nick Broomfield
Jez Lewis
narrator =
starring = Ai Qin Lin
Zhe Wei
music = Harry Escott
Molly Nyman
cinematography = Mark Wolf
editing = Peter Christelis
distributor = Beyond Films
released = flagicon|Spain 21 September 2006
flagicon|UK 25 October 2006
Flagicon|USA January 2007
runtime = 96 minutes
country = United Kingdom
language = Mandarin, Fuzhou dialect, English
budget =
gross =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:375208
imdb_id = 0872202

"Ghosts" (鬼佬) is a 2006 drama film directed by Nick Broomfield, based on the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster.


The film tells the story of Ai Qin, an illegal Chinese immigrant to the UK. She is seen at home (Fuzhou Changle), where there is no work except badly paid agricultural labour, and even this is in short supply. She has a son but no visible husband (this is explained later on). The family have some awareness of the dangers, and can keep in touch using mobile phones, but overall they have no control once Ai Qin puts herself in the hands of a "snakehead" gang who for a deposit of $5,000 (and the obligation to pay off the loan of another $20,000) will smuggle her to Europe.

The film follows her from China to the UK where she gets a job in a food-packing factory. It reveals that the UK's food industry is heavily dependent on underpaid, exploited migrant labour. "Massage" (i.e. sex work) is offered as a profitable alternative, but she resists this. She finds herself dependent on a "gangmaster", who however is only one step up himself and needs to bribe richer contractors to get even badly paid work. His position and that of the group is deteriorating, and it is in some desperation that they turn to cockle-picking at Morecambe Bay.

The film begins and ends with scenes recreating the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster, in which 23 illegal workers lost their lives whilst cockle-picking.


* Ai Qin Lin as Ai Qin
* Zhan Yu as Mr. Lin
* Zhe Wei as Xiao Li
* Man Qin Wei as Chiao
* Yong Aing Zhai
* Devi Zhu
* Shaun Gallagher as Robert


The title of the film stems from the term 鬼佬 ("gui lao", literally "ghost") used colloquially in China to describe white-skinned people.

Basis in fact

The 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster involved 38 individuals, of whom 23 drowned. The gangmaster got 14 years' imprisonment. His girlfriend was found guilty of immigration offences. The film shows a much smaller group, so it is not a literal retelling. But it is generally accepted as an accurate picture of the plight of Chinese illegal immigrants.

External links

* [ Official site]
* [,,1989845,00.html Film review]
* [ Review from]

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