Movie Review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Ai Qin Lin
Director: Nick Broomfield
Acclaimed documentary director Nick Broomfield trains his lens on the true story of the fate of the Chinese cockle-pickers in this docu-drama, 23 of whom drowned in February 2004 at Morecambe Bay. All were illegal immigrants and recently the ringmaster of the cockling set up, Lin Liang Ren, was sentenced to imprisonment in a case well documented in the English press.
The brave Ai Qin Lin takes on the role of herself to re-enact events as a dramatic narrative of this cautionary, and desperately sad, tale. Ai Qin paid $25,000 US to be smuggled into Britain as an illegal immigrant. Abandoned by her husband and left to bring up her son with no money, her £20 a week wages in Fujian Province, China, would not provide enough. Many other immigrants, also in desperate financial situations, have the same idea. The film portrays the real goings on of the rancid life they are forced to endure when they get here, their struggle to get any work, and the realities of their promised paradise.
The film makes us embarrassed of our treatment of these people, and also sometimes their treatment of each other. However the immigrants’ spirit shows through when times are really tough, which mostly they are.