I watched this film last night at the Forum for the 2006 Melbourne Film Festival. (This coming Saturday, I will be watching with friends, the much awaited the Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, also in the film festival).
Paper Dolls was under the category “Israel Films” – for it was written and filmed in Israel – although the whole story revolves around Filipino gay guys (or geishas!) who worked as caregivers to old and demented Israelites. At night time they do drag shows as a form of expression and to cure their boredome and depression in a world that is so strange. In a documentary film, with the perspective of a friendly Israelite, these group overseas Filipino workers represent the “core and the spirit of the Filipinos” in a foreign land.
Highlights, Points of Interest:
At the synagogue, a caregiver amidst the the elderly orthodoxes, was also doing her thing (singing a tune in her Ipod) while watching her patient.
One fat caregiver surreptitiously changing her clothes in the hallway to emerge as one fat woman in drag wearing a black big gown for a night gala… walked nonchanlantly on the streets with her bags full of costumes for the show.
The show girls doing their thing while wearing their wardrobe made of newspapers.
Bitter sweet daughter-father relationship forged between a gay caregiver who cross dresses even inside the house and her old sponsor-patient who cannot speak and thought he hired a man but instead got a girl in dress in his house.
Simple, funny, and sweet lives of these genuine people who have small dreams of just earning a living, helping other people, and just being themselves.
Going home and some finding opportunities in London and reviving the group.
How talented the Filipinos are in terms of adapting to a strange land – and how they were able to speak and read in Hebrews (or Japanese or Arabic for that matter!)
True friendship, camaraderie and love found in strange countries. And as John Lennon wrote, “people are the same wherever you go… there is good and bad… in everyone”. Bad as depicted by one Israel taxi driver who in his minute experience had hurled all shame against the Filipinos and the poor country. But then, again.
What can I say – but I cried a bucket!
Watch the Video Trailer on this : http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2757034
Throughout the world, struggling people cross borders illegally to find work and make a better life for themselves: Mexicans in the US, Turks in Germany and North Africans in France. But only Israel has a population of illegal Filipinos of indeterminate gender who care for the elderly Orthodox – and for whom they often become substitute children.
PAPER DOLLS follows five such men, refugees from families that reject them, who’ve made a home in Tel Aviv, Israel’s most swinging city. Fast friends, they spend their free time on stage, as the drag queen ensemble, Paper Dolls. A multiple-prize winner at the most recent Berlin Film Festival, the film takes a thoughtful, variously humorous and poignant look at people whose very lives redefine conventional notions of gender, family and love.With support from the Joan S. Constantiner Fund for Jewish and Holocaust Film
Paper Dolls Bubot NiyarIsrael,
2006, 84 min, Color, 35mmIn Hebrew, English, and Tagalog with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Directed By: Tomer Heymann
Screenwriter: Tomer Heymann
Producers: Claudia Levin, Stanley Buchthal, Tomer Heymann
Executive Producer: Maja Hoffmann
Cinematographer: Itai Raziel
Editor: Lavi Ben Gal
Music: Eli Soorani
Featuring: Chiqui Diokno, Jojo Diokno, Troan Jacob Libas, Sally Comatoy, Efrenito Manalili, Jose Neil T. Datinguinoo, Francisco P. Oritz Jr., Eduardo Javar, Chaim Amir
Immigration is an explosive issue in many countries, and no less so in Israel, especially given the nation’s volatile political climate. Following the Intifada in 2000, Palestinians were prohibited from working as domestics in Israel, which spawned a huge influx of foreign workers to the country, many from Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Israeli documentarian Tomer Heymann’s film is a heartfelt portrait of one group of immigrants.In one of Tel Aviv’s most conservative Orthodox neighborhoods, a small group of transsexual Filipinos working as caregivers devote themselves to their elderly Jewish charges round the clock-except on the nights they perform in drag as the Paper Dolls.
Director Heymann spent nearly five years exploring their seemingly incongruous, often tender relationships with their employers, as well as their struggles with the local gay community and with immigration authorities.
The Dolls endure long hours and backbreaking work while living with the constant fear after a recent government crackdown of losing their work visas, and the subsequent possibility of arrest and deportation-not to mention the ever-present threat of suicide bombings.
Paper Dolls, which won the Panorama Audience Award at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival, is a sensitive, complex portrait of a group of individuals who are perpetual outsiders, both at home and abroad..