12 user 24 critic

Ghosts (2006)

A young Chinese girl is smuggled into the UK so she can support her son and family in China.


Nick Broomfield
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zhan Yu Zhan Yu ... Mr. Lin
Tao Li Tao Li ... Chinese Cockle-Picker
Ai Qin Lin Ai Qin Lin ... Ai Qin
Zhe Wei Zhe Wei ... Xiao Li
Yong Aing Zhai Yong Aing Zhai ... Zhai (as Wen Buo Zhai)
An Sheng Lin An Sheng Lin ... Baby Bebe
Kan Jin Chen Kan Jin Chen ... Ai Qin's Mother
Shiang Fa Lin Shiang Fa Lin ... Ai Qin's Father
Qin Rong Lin Qin Rong Lin ... Ai Qin's Brother
Ping Chen Ping Chen ... Snakehead in China / UK
Marc Hoeferlin Marc Hoeferlin ... People Smuggler in Calais
David Bryan ... People Smuggler in Calais (as Dave Bryan)
Jiannan Tian Jiannan Tian ... Smuggled Chinese Immigrant
Xiang Li ... Smuggled Chinese Immigrant
Shu Ping Wang Shu Ping Wang ... Snakehead in UK


A young girl, Ai Qin, pays $25,000 to be smuggled into the UK in order to support her family back in China. She is forced to live with eleven other Chinese in a small house in Thetford, Norfolk, working in factories and fields preparing food. The film was inspired by the Morecambe Bay tragedy of 2004, when a gang of Chinese cockle-pickers found themselves trapped tide coming in. Written by Michelet Carsrud

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Morecambe Bay, February 5th 2004, 23 lives, 23 souls


Adventure | Drama


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Did You Know?


Had no scripted dialog. See more »


Referenced in Shooting 'Ghosts' (2006) See more »

User Reviews

Restraint and simplicity is powerful.
8 February 2007 | by roy-54See all my reviews

I'm disappointed that only one comment on Ghosts has been posted since the film's release. It is, I think, an important film that deserves commentary.

On the whole, I'm not a fan of Nick Broomfield and his usual technique of 'authored' or 'performed' documentaries, in which he often plays a starring role. As a consequence, I've never before been to a theatrical screening of one of his films. In the early sequences of Ghosts, the approach is very much like a television documentary or a reality TV show. As I don't like reality TV, my interest was held less by style and more by the details of the narrative and by the chance to compare the notion of a long journey of illegal immigration with that shown in Michael Winterbottom's In This World. Broomfield doesn't display Winterbottom's creativity in conveying the horrors of the journey and I began to worry that the film wouldn't take off. However, it does, largely because the central characters become more 'narrativised' -- by which I mean that they become more like characters in a fictional narrative and I began to feel for them and their terrible predicament.

The film is based on real events, so in a sense the audience knows what is going to happen, if not precisely what will happen to individual characters. Nevertheless, I found the last 20 minutes both riveting and terribly distressing. I've walked in Morecambe Bay, but not out into the estuary where I would never go without an official guide. Knowing how dangerous something is makes the suspense even worse for me.

Overall Broomfield and Jez Lewis are remarkably restrained in not trying to present a black and white world of wrong and right in the film. The story is told from the perspective of the Chinese workers. I haven't read all the details of the trials of the Chinese gangmaster and his accomplices which took place in 2006, but at first glance, the film offers something that is not a conventional crime/exploitation story and more an affecting personal drama. There is relatively little 'plot' and much more about developing understanding for the characters. Unfortunately I suspect that not many audiences will see the film in cinemas and when it appears on TV, it will be lost amidst Channel 4's reality TV wallpaper. I hope not, because it deserves to be seen and discussed.

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Mandarin | English

Release Date:

12 January 2007 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Fantasmas See more »

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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