Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ghosts review

Decided on another trip to the showroom last night to go and see ghosts. I enjoyed the brisk walk to the cinema, as there was a real crisp coldness in the air. Probably the first time I've really enjoyed proper cold air this winter. There's nothing like wrapping up and walking in the cold, icy fingers pricking your cheeks, and the glow on entering a warm building.
It's exactly 2 years since at least 23 illegal chinese immigrants died whilst out cockling in morecambe. This film based on a true story is told by documentry maker Nick Broomfield. It holds on to some form of documentary in it's telling, not quite having the feel of a movie. For the most part I felt an observer, rather than feeling drawn and involved with the characters. Ai Qin believes she can earn a better life in the uk and provide for her family, she quickly learns that this is not the case as she is forced to live in squalid conditions in a rented house with many others. The film documents the work that services the food industry, meat factories, fruit/vegatable picking. The monotonous and hard work that goes to serve our supermarkets, carried out daily by people on the poverty line. Here the immigrants use false documents to garner work through an agency, where they earn about £100 disposable income from 40 hour weeks. It casts a bleak picture, and whilst you cannot condone entering a country illegaly, once caught up in the web it must be impossible to leave. Forever indebted to the loan sharks and gangs who paved your illegal entry, you are subjected to a life of hard work in some of the countries most demeaning jobs. Eventually forced to cockle, the immigrants are discouraged violently by the locals from carrying out their work whilst they are working. So it is whilst working at night that they are caught off guard by the quick changing tide. It poses difficult social questions, how to deal with illegal immigrants who could not possibly repay their debts if deported, and yet carry out important work in the food, health and care sectors. Would this work continue to be delivered if the illegal (or for that matter even the legal) immigrants did not do it. On the anniversary year of the abolition of the slave trade, issues like this show that it is very much still thriving. Challenging.

The families of the cocklers who died are still trying to pay back owed debts, the morecambe victim fund are trying to raise funds in support.

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