96 min/Broomfi eld/UK/2006
Broomfield’s fictional feature film, Ghosts (2006), is based on interviews and articles gathered by the journalist Hsai-Hung Pai during her investigation into the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy. Twenty-three undocumented migrant workers from China, all unfamiliar with the geography, language and customs of the area, were drowned after being caught out by incoming tides on the extensive mud flats of Morcambe Bay. Their deaths are dramatised in Ghosts which, whilst focusing on a single doomed work crew, is the story of workers who, in desperate need to support their families in China, resort to illegal immigration to countries such as the UK where they became part of the significant number of foreign-born precariat under-class workers. Th e cockle gatherers are representative of a signifi cant class of modern slavery, being bound to criminal gang bosses by a debt servitude that leaves them unable to escape their dangerous jobs. Broomfield deftly dramatises the process in which a Chinese worker pays smugglers a significant sum of money, before taking terrible risks (such as being transported by container), in order to enter the British workforce, where they are subsequently crowded into tiny cottages and treated akin to slaves before being sent out to work in conditions and environments that are dangerous and unsupervised.
(London Labour Film festival 2017)