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Island of the Hungry Ghosts

dir. Gabrielle Brady / Germany, UK, Australia / 2018 / 98 min.

Section: ONLINE

Screenings: November 21-25, 2020


Director: Gabrielle Brady

Screenplay: Gabrielle Brady

Cinematography: Michael Latham

Editing: Katharina Fiedler

Sound: Leo Dolgan 

Music: Aaron Couples

Producers: Alexander Wadouh, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Gizem Acarla

Production: Chromosom Film

World sales: Autlook Filmsales

Language: English, Mandarin Chinese, Farsi, French


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 is a “trauma therapist” who lives with her family in this place of hostile and wild landscapes - one of the last places on the planet to be discovered. Every day, she talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centre, attempting, relentlessly, 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 powerful and 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 she  begins to feel the creeping dystopia reverberate through her own life.    


Tribeca Film Festival (Best Documentary Feature), IDFA - International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (Amsterdam Human Rights Award), Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Festival des Libertés (Prix SMART), Viennale, Visions du Réel, Nyon (Buyens-Chagoll Award), DocAviv, New Zealand International Film Festival, Edinburgh Film Festival (Special Mention), Athens International Film Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, DOK Leipzig, Tallinn Black Nights International Film Festival, One World Prague, Göteborg International Film Festival, DOK.fest München, True/False Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, ZagrebDox (Special Mention from the Movies That Matter Jury), Zurich International Film Festival (Mercurius Award)


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Gabrielle Brady (1984) is an Australian filmmaker who makes documentary and hybrid films. Gabrielle studied Documentary Direction at the Cuban International Film School (EICTV). Gabrielle has lived nomadically for the past ten years, traveling between Cuba, Mongolia, Indonesia, the Australian central desert and Europe. Her short film “Island”  was commissioned as part of “The Guardian” documentary series and premiered at Sheffield festival 2017. “Island of the Hungry Ghosts” is her first feature film.


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