Director: Nick Broomfield
Screenwriters: Nick Broomfield, Jez Lewis

Institute History

  • 2007 Sundance Film Festival


Ai Qin borrows $25,000 to hire "snakeheads" to smuggle her into the United Kingdom so she can support her family in China. Using forged work permits, she gets mundane jobs. Quickly, she finds herself in a grueling routine as part of the cheap labor force, an invisible cog in the wheel of modern Britain. Qin lives with 15 others in a two-bedroom suburban house and works to pay off her debt.

Director Nick Broomfield makes a compelling transition from his documentary roots to narrative filmmaking. He shapes Ghosts into a gripping film by keeping a keen lens on the action, constructing a close and intense realism perfectly suited to the story.

Ai Qin is played by Ai Qin Lin, who draws on her own experiences as an illegal immigrant to infuse her performance with stark authenticity. Much of the cast is made up of nonactors or once-illegal immigrants. The effect gives this account of human struggle a collective raw emotion. Ghosts is a vigilant reminder that while some immigration stories end in a better life, others end in tragedy.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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