Island of the Hungry Ghosts, 2018, Gabrielle Brady © Viennale

Island of the Hungry Ghosts (2018)

Regie: Gabrielle Brady; Darsteller: Poh Lin Lee. 94 min
 
"Hybrid documentary" nennt Brady das Genre, in dem sie die Grenzen eines Paradieses erkundet, das für Asylsuchende eine reale Hölle wurde. Auf den Weihnachtsinseln hat Australien als Teil seiner Abschreckungspolitik in einem "Detention Center" jahrelang mehrere tausend Bootsflüchtlinge quasi rechtlos interniert. Die Traumatherapeutin Poh Lin Lee, von deren Arbeit mit Geflüchteten der Film so berührend erzählt, ist eine Freundin der Regisseurin. Was auf den ersten Blick aussieht wie eine brillant inszenierte, krabbenreiche Fiktion, ist tatsächlich fast zur Gänze aus dokumentarischem Material montiert. (R. W.)


Christmas Island, an isolated part of the world, located between Indonesia and Australia, is one of the off-territory sites Australia uses to detain people seeking refuge or asylum (or a better life) on its territory proper. The tropical island is also the site of another kind of migration: Usually at the beginning of the wet season thousands of red crabs make their way from the forest to the sea shore, a passage that finds protection from the people on Christmas Island. In one scene in Gabrielle Brady's documentary we see her protagonist, the therapist Poh Lin Lee, carefully clearing the road in order to avoid crab roadkill. Her main task on the island (and her vocation, we may surmise) is to help some of the detainees on the island, who suffer from the uncertainty of their status, and who often react by harming themselves. Poh Lin Lee offers an original therapy using a sandbox as a device to address trauma. Island of the Hungry Ghosts is as much a subtly radical political documentary as it is a deeply moving meditation on extreme conditions in a place haunted by ghosts of all kind – the biggest ghost being the unjust world order against which there is no easy offering. (Bert Rebhandl) 

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