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March 23, 2007
Ghosts: 2007: dir Nick Broomfield
For those of you following the theme of 'British Cinema's Reaction to Globalisation and Global Events' it is an important film to note and should be seen at the earliest opportunity in order to compare with the other British films which have been covered.
Below there are a range of links to good quality reviews plus official sites, blogs and interviews. There is the facility to hear an interview with the director amd to see a short extract on the BBC film Network site as well as the trailer on the official site. There is also a brief contextual overview relating Ghosts to other British and European films which are examining the forces driving diaspora and some of the unpleasant outcomes for those who do emigrate.
Link to Official Web Site
Click here for BBC Film Network Site. Video interview and a short scene from the film are accessible here. (You will require Realplayer)
Click here to access Nick Broomfield's Guardian Blog
Much of the film is taken from the work of journalist Hsiao-Hung Pai:
born in Taiwan and now lives in Britain. She writes for the Guardian newspaper, specialising in stories about the Chinese community. She also writes for UK-Chinese publications. Her latest Chinese-language work is Hidden Assembly Line: Undocumented workers in Britain, published in February 2006. (From Open Democracy site see webliography below).
Contextual Overview of British Cinema's Responses to Globalisation
In early April 2007 Tartan Video are releasing Ghosts which is a film bearing witness to the pain and danger endured by the undocumented workers from China who form a major part of Britian's hidden economy which has thrived under ten years of 'New Labour'. It also functions as a critique of neo-liberal economic policies at the expense of social policy. It also important to note the EU has failed to take the measures necessary to stop this trade. This includes such policy areas as agricultural policy. As such the much vaunted 'joined up thinking' aspired to by New Labour ten years ago has failed to materialise.
Ghosts bears witness to the dreadful night in February 2004 when 23 Chinese workers died on the sands of Blackpool. It was an event which finally brought the dreadful situation of undocumented workers into the limelight. It is well known that London runs on the sweat of undocumented labour in clothing, low value services such as sweatshops and the so-called 'sex industry' a name which appears to legitimise the 'new' slave trade of the 21st century of women being brought and held against their will to service British sexual fantasies (presumably mainly male). It is a subject touched upon by British cinema but to my knowledge best dealt with in Lucas Moodysson's Lilya 4-Ever (2002, Sweden). Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things (2002) effectively exposed many of dodges in London as well as the apalling trade in body parts. Pawlikowski's Last Resort (2001) dealt with the way in which British men exploit and mislead women in vulnerable positions in Eastern Europe. Michael Winterbottom's In this World (2002) and Ghosts can be more strongly linked with Lilya 4-Ever in that all three seek to represent the powerful forces which push people into desparate migrations often right across the World.
Of the British films dealing in differing ways with the pressures of globalisation upon the weaker countries of the World dirty Pretty Things (BBC), Last Resort (BBC) and Ghosts (Film Four - See note 1) were all backed directly by TV. This is laudable as it is clear that a Public Service Broadcasting remit has gone beyonf the artificiality of national boundaries to explore problems n the World in relation to Britain which is as it should be.
1) Wikipedia suggests Film Four were involved in backing the film however I haven't found any other evidence to corroborate this at present. This will be updated when this is confirmed.
Please note these sites were pop-up free when visited. The Times review has a pop-up and is not included.
May 08 2008 Gangmaster loses licence. BBC Report on mass exploitation of Polish Workers in UK.