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A Teesside University lecturer and acclaimed film producer is to have his latest documentary screened at an international festival in America.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts is the latest offering from Third Films and will have its world premiere at the renowned Tribeca Film Festival in New York next month.

It will be shown alongside The Fourth Estate, from Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus, which follows the New York Times’ coverage of the Trump administration’s first year, as well as Drake Doremus’ sci-fi romance Zoe, starring Ewan McGregor.

Samm Haillay is a Senior Lecturer in Media Production in Teesside University’s School of Computing, Media & the Arts. He is also Lead Producer at Third Films which has eight feature films to its name – including Bypass which premiered at the Venice and London Film Festivals and was distributed worldwide across platforms including Amazon, BT TV and iTunes.

Island of the Hungry Ghosts is one of 12 films that will be screened in the documentary competition section of the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from 18 to 29 April.

It has received funding from the British Film Industry, as well as funders in Germany and Australia.

Directed by Gabrielle Brady, the feature length documentary is set on the remote Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The island is one of the last discovered places on earth, with humans having migrated to its shores less than a century ago.

Local islanders carry out their ‘hungry ghost’ rituals for the spirits of those who died on the island without a proper burial and they make offerings to appease the lost souls who are said to be wandering the jungles at night without a home.

The film centres on Poh Lin, a trauma counsellor living on the island with her young family and whose job it is to work with people trying to seek asylum to Australia who have been detained in the high security detention facility within the jungle.

Samm will be traveling to New York with the Director and other members of the production team next month for the festival. Autlook Film Sales has also been appointed with the brief of selling the film to buyers and distributors.

“It is a fantastic opportunity and one that will provide a platform for a great deal of exposure,” explained Samm.

“We are all immensely proud and are hoping it is well-received. It is a beautiful film which has taken us three years to make. It says so much and manages to be hugely political without making one political statement.

“For a film by a debut director to be selected for such a prestigious festival is a marvellous achievement.”

This will be the 17th Tribeca Film Festival, with the event championing new and emerging talent, while also celebrating new work from established filmmakers. This year’s event will feature 96 films and includes 74 world premieres and a host of international and American premieres.

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