Ghost Hunting - Ghost Hunting(Blu Ray) [Second Run - 2020]Ghost Hunting is a 2016 Palestinian film that blurs the lines between fact, re-creation, and fiction- itís part documentary, part troubling re-enactment, and part fly-on-the-wall making of. The film focuses in on a group of survivors from the notorious Al-Moscobya prison- Israel's main interrogation centre. Here from Second Run is a recent region free Blu Ray release of this highly distinctive & at times troubling film- with the disc featuring a HD presentation of the film, with new & improved sub-titles, director interview & twenty-page inlay booklet.
Ghost Hunting(Istiyad Ashbah) was directed by Raed Andoni, and it really is quite an unusual take on both storytelling & film making- which for the most part is successful & compelling. The film finds Andoni gathering together a group of around ten men who were all imprisoned & interrogation in Al-Moscobya or similar prisons- the whole film takes place inside a huge hanger where Andoni, his crew, and the survivors recreate the prison.
The film begins with Andoni interviewing the subjects- a group of around ten men from different walks of life & different ages- briefly finding out a bit about each. As the film moves on we get to a blend of set making footage & banter, scene rehearsal that at times blur the lines between fact & fiction, and later full-on reaction of treatment & events that went with-in the walls of Al-Moscobya. Blended in with this we get decidedly grim & largely black & white animation that recreates the prisoners themselves, their nightmares & fears- these rather brought to mind starker dream sequences from say something like When The Wind Blows. And as you can imagine at times things get decidedly harrowing & disturbing with prisons wetting themselves & been used as human mops, intense-at-points homosexual fed belittling/ mental torture. And hands-on bodies roughing-up. Yet there are also moments of humanity, subtly touches of humour and general man-on-man banter/ lightly amusing misunderstandings.
The whole structure & layout of the film jumps in & out past reflections, recreations, and present-day dealing with it- so at points you have to refocus & ground yourself on what setting weíre in, but Iíd say if you familiar with say more British mockumentaries like Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Extras- youíll understand the flow of the whole thing- though of course thereís not really many all-out laughs here, and the subject matter is both troubling & true. Iíd say Ghost Hunting does slightly outstay itís welcome at near the one-hour forty-minute mark- with certainly scenarios & events/ or their recreation over-played. But for the most part, itís both a thought-provoking, daring & intelligent bit of film-making that does bend & at times morph what film creation is & can be.
Moving onto the Blu Ray, and we get a well defined & nicely balanced HD presentation of the film, which features clear & crisp sub-titles. On disc extras wise we get an around a six-minute interview with Raed Andoni- this was recorded around when the film was shown at 2017ís Amsterdam Documentary film festival. Bizarrely it opens with decidedly jiving easy listening music- which is a long from what Ghost Hunting is about, but stay with it as it settles down & we get some nice insights into the film's concept, itís making, and itís impact. Otherwise, we get a twenty-page inlay booklet- this features new writing about the social & cultural landscapes surrounding the film by the film's producer Gareth Evans.
Ghost Hunting is most certainly one of the most original & distinct films Iíve seen focusing in on imprisonment- it mangers to both lightly unsettle, stir up emotion, and lets one celebrate the power & strength of humanity surviving through the worst. To buy a copy directly from Second Run head here