Ghost Fleet

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USA | 2018 | 90 minutes | Shannon Service, Jeffrey Waldron

An engrossing and impactful documentary about Thai human-rights activist Patima Tungpuchayakul as she and her team attempt to rescue the enslaved fishermen forced to work the southeast Asian seas.

"A chilling account of modern-day slavery."—The Hollywood Reporter

In port cities like Seattle back in the 1800s, men were "Shanghaied" out of bars and opium dens and forced to work on ships to meet the increased demand for crew. You might think of that as a footnote to history. You would be wrong. The multibillion-dollar Thai seafood industry has destroyed local ecosystems and pushed commercial fishing thousands of miles offshore, but beyond the environmental crisis is a humanitarian one: A severe labor shortage has led to the abduction and slave labor of thousands upon thousands of people. Many of them go for years without seeing land. However, there is a beacon of hope; Patima Tungpuchayakul kept hearing stories of stranded men who've escaped these boats, so she created an organization that not only helps them reunite with their families, but also charters trips to search for missing people. Not all of them want to come home; many were dumped in foreign lands with no identification and no hope, so they start new families. Beautifully shot, poetic recreations underlie some of the film's horrific stories, which only draw you in deeper. Despite the harrowing subject, Ghost Fleet is ultimately a hopeful, inspirational story of somebody making a difference in the world.

Andy Spletzer

Director Biography
In her investigative reporting and filmmaking work for HBO, PBS, NPR, the BBC, The New York Times, Utne Reader, and many more media outlets, Shannon Service has reported from, among other locales, Baghdad, Palestine, and a base camp at Mount Everest. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito with her pet seagull, Fluffy.

Jeffrey Waldron, a graduate of USC and the American Film Institute Conservatory, has worked as a cinematographer on projects for Netflix, HBO, IFC, Hulu, and others. His documentary work has taken him to Brazil, Rwanda, Thailand, Cambodia, India, and New Zealand.

Sponsored by Center for Human Rights at UW

  • Director: Shannon Service, Jeffrey Waldron
  • Principal Cast: Patima Tungpuchayakul, Tun Lin, Chutima “Oi” Sidasathian, Bustar Maitar
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2018
  • Running Time: 90 minutes
  • Producer: Jon Bowermaster
  • Cinematographers: Basil Childers, Lucas Gath, Jeffrey Waldron, Alejandro Wilkins
  • Editors: Parker Laramie
  • Music: Mark Degli Antoni
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: Palm Springs International Film Festival 2019 (John Schlesinger Award)
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English, Burmese, Thai, Khmer
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Abramorama
  • International Sales: Endeavor Content