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GHOSTS . . . OF THE CIVIL DEAD

Australia, 1988 (MIFF 1988)

Director: John Hillcoat

The first feature from former Swinburne students English and Hillcoat blows the cobwebs out of the Australian feature in one gut wrenching cinematic punch It's tough, uncompromising and totally unlike any feature made here recently, possibly ever.

Ghosts... is the product of extensive research, both locally and internationally, on the part of English and Hillcoat into the state of die art of incarceration On their travels they discovered hi-tech "new-generation" prisons, located in skyscrapers, in deserts, in suburban streets They found prisons equipped with the latest electronic surveillance gear, on-call anti-riot squads and more.

Drawing input from a number of writers the final script is virtually non-narrative, using as its only linear thread the admission of a new prisoner, (Wenzil - played by Dave Field), his inevitable initiation into prison life and his eventual, unexpected release

While the issues the film raises - that imprisonment is not only inhumane but further criminalises its victims and brutalises its servants, and that both the jailed and their gaolers are ultimately only pawns in a larger political power game - are important and powerfully evoked, the filmmakers real achievement here is the creation of a quite unique theatricality)' (in both the look of the film and die performances) which eschews the traditional prison drama conventions, and the establishment of a claustrophobic other-worldly atmosphere which quickly establishes the actual prison, with its colour coded sectors, automated doors and the constant buzz of lights and security equipment, as the main character of the film.

"The film is about the way fear is used as a method of social control, both in prison and outside it - Ghosts is about the organisation of our society it's about our world, with the volume turned right up" - John Hillcoat, Evan English

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