Film Screening: Island of the Hungry Ghost

Winner: Best Documentary, Tribeca Film Festival 2018


Screening followed by Q&A with director Gabrielle Brady and trauma
therapist Poh Lin. Tickets available here.

Australian director Gabrielle Brady’s debut feature is amongst a strong
lineage of films about asylum seekers, but it is wholly unlike any of them.
Hypnotic and at times surreal, the film focuses on Poh Lin – a trauma therapist
working at the Christmas Island Detention Centre. Brady interweaves Lin’s
story with the island’s violent past and the annual migration of the island’s
famous red crabs. This compelling genre-defying exploration of attitudes to
migrants across time and culture is at once sharply beautiful and powerful.
Every day, Poh LIn talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centre hidden in the island’s core, attempting to support them in a situation that is as unbearable as its outcome is uncertain.

As Poh Lin and her family explore the island’s beautiful yet threatening landscape, the local islanders carry out their “hungry ghost” rituals for the spirits of those who are said to be wandering the jungles at night looking for home died on the island without a burial. They make offerings to appease the lost souls.

In the intimacy of her therapy sessions, as Poh Lin listens to the growing sense of despair of the people she counsels, she begins to feel the creeping dystopia reverberate through her own life.

Christmas Island is inhabited by migratory crabs travelling in their millions from the jungle towards the ocean, in a movement that has been provoked by the full moon for hundreds of thousands of years.

Christmas Island is one of the last discovered places on earth. A land with no original inhabitants. Where the ancient natural migrations are a reminder of a long past and an imagined future. A place where the deep and untamed jungles are populated with hungry ghosts, wandering at night, searching for home.

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