Scene from the film Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Scene from the film Island of the Hungry Ghosts
Scene from the film Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Island of the Hungry Ghosts

  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Germany

Located off the coast of Indonesia, the Australian territory of 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.

Poh Lin Lee is a “trauma therapist” who lives with her family in this seemingly idyllic paradise. Every day, she talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centere 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 died on the island without a burial. They make offerings to appease the lost souls who are said to be wandering the jungles at night looking for home.

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. Island of the Hungry Ghosts is a hybrid documentary that moves between the natural migration and the chaotic and tragic migration of the humans, which is in constant metamorphoses by the unseen decision-making structures.

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  • Original Title
    Island of the Hungry Ghosts
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Gabrielle Brady
  • Cinematography
    Michael Latham
  • Editing
    Katharina Fiedler
  • Runtime
    98 min (91+ min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • United Kingdom
    • Australia
    • Germany
  • Format
    • Colour
  • Awards
    • Festival FReDD 2019 - Panorama Price
    • Tribeca Film Festival 2018 - Best Documentary Feature
    • Visions du Réel 2018 - Buyens-Chagoll Award
    • Valletta Film Festival - Best Documentary film
    • Edinburgh IFF - Special Mention
    • Crested Butte FF 2018 - Best Documentary
    • Adelaide FF 2018 - Flinders University Feature Documentary Award
    • ZagrebDox 2019 - Special Mention from the Movies That Matter Jury
    • Sole Luna Doc Film Festival 2019 - Best Documentary
    • Down Under Berlin FF 2019 - Best Film is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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