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The Hungry Ghosts (2009)

R | | Drama | 5 February 2010 (USA)
A New York City-set drama of interlocking stories which occur over a 36-hour period.


Michael Imperioli

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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Steve Schirripa ... Frank
Aunjanue Ellis ... Nadia
Nick Sandow ... Gus
Sharon Angela ... Sharon
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sharon Abella Sharon Abella ... Girl who was dealt Blackjack
Tina Benko ... Abby
Nuno Bento Nuno Bento
Paul Calderon ... Carl
Joe Caniano Joe Caniano ... Joey
E.J. Carroll ... Eddie
Selma Cifka Selma Cifka ... Doris
Emory Cohen ... Matthew
Vincent Curatola ... Nicky Z
Elzbieta Czyzewska ... Mrs. Dunleavy
Sanjit De Silva ... Mohammed


According to Buddhists, hungry ghosts are the dead who cannot bid farewell to the living. They are a metaphor for spiritual hunger which we often try to satisfy by chasing the superficial and material. This directing debut by Michael Imperioli is filled with hungry ghosts. A group of New Yorkers, of different ages, races and backgrounds, hunger for emotional, sensual, and spiritual fulfillment. Their intersecting and colliding paths reflect the zeitgeist of our times, in which the desperation of the West smacks up against the religious teachings of the East. Written by Warsaw Film Festival

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, drug use, language and some disturbing content


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

5 February 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Glodne duchy See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

could've been so much better---a non-starter of a film sad to say
6 October 2010 | by mbsSee all my reviews

Saw this last night at the Quad Theater in NYC largely based on the review in the Village Voice (and because of some curiosity on what Michael Imperioli would do as a writer/director)---i think the plot synopsis makes it sound much more interesting then it actually was---its all right as an actor's exercise, but as a narrative film-- none of the characters ever really emerge as fully fleshed out characters--and none of the ongoing plot lines seem to actually go anywhere despite the sense that they just might if only we can just stick around long enough to find out.

Steven Schirripa's drug addicted late night radio talk show host is more or less the main character here (and he plays it well enough to keep you more or less invested in the outcome of his character) but its outpatient (and 90 day chip holder) Nick Sandow who absolutely stands out at the beginning as the character to keep your eye on--the movie's wild card if you will---and every time he appeared back on screen i kept thinking we were finally gonna go somewhere really interesting with him--but after a while he becomes not so much a character as much as a mouthpiece for the movie's beat poetry and philosophical rhapsodies---the last half of the movie his plot line is largely reduced to scenes of him quoting poetry into his cellphone while trying to reach his ex girlfriend--who's stuck in an even more uninvolved plot line of her own.

Anjunae Ellis (as Sandow's ex) is another wasted character--she spends most of the movie wandering around trying to find a place to crash--mostly avoiding attempts at interaction including frequent phone calls from Sandow's character--all of which begs the question--what the heck is she doing with a cellphone in the first place?--the woman is a virtually homeless nomad--her most memorable scene is almost getting into a fight with the owner of a building whose stoop she's eating dinner and resting on, nearly beating her up with a garbage can-- the longer the film played the more i kept wondering what exactly was the plight of her character aside from being used as a narrative device??? Easily the most well defined plot line as well as the most well defined character would be Schirripa's and he's all right enough of an actor to make you feel something for the self punishing schlub--but its frustrating as hell for his plot line to be the only one that gets somewhat of a resolution--not to mention having him be the only character that actually gets to go on to a third act resolution of some sorts when the other two main characters never do. (which is all the more disappointing when you remember that Nick Sandow started out the film as the most interesting character.)That Schirripa's problematic character recalled to my mind the comedian Artie Lange who has had some seemingly similar kinds of problems-would've actually made the film (and his character) far more interesting then it ultimately ended up being.

I wanted to like this film--the premise and Cassavettes like atmosphere held promise (The Hungry Ghosts obviously have to do with all 3 of the main characters' various addictions and how all of em are loathe to escape 'em right? right? no seriously that's right right?) but aside from the occasional non-sequituous scene--movie is quite the non-starter. One of the other comments mentioned Sandow's ripping apart of this young woman whom he comes into contact with--and that is indeed a great scene (definitely you-tube worthy) if only the film had come to sharp witted life like that more often--it could've really been amazing.

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