Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Winner of the coveted Best Documentary award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, the first feature documentary from Australian filmmaker Gabrielle Brady is an all-encompassing, deeply moving tribunal on man’s inhumanity to man, set within the breathtaking landscapes of the Indian Ocean.
Island of the Hungry Ghosts takes place on the remote Christmas Island near Australia, an extraordinary environment and one of the last discovered places on earth. Home to fewer than 2,000 human inhabitants, it’s famous for one of the world’s largest land migrations – that of 50 million red crabs making their annual voyage to the ocean’s edge – but has a more troubling relationship with human migration, with its jungle hiding Australia’s biggest offshore refugee detention centre, where thousands of asylum seekers are locked away indefinitely.
The asylum seekers’ only connection to the outside world is trauma counsellor Poh Lin Lee, who lives on the island with her family, and this lyrical, allegorical film follows her as she attempts to support the detainees. Positioning Christmas Island itself as a kind of protagonist, Brady explores the landscape’s violent past and troubled present, showing how the chaos and politics of its human dramas sit in stark, often absurd contrast to its own ancient and natural rhythms.