A powerful exploration of gay Filipino migrant workers who came to Israel to care of elderly orthodox Jewish men. Filled with contradictions and shattering preconceived expectations, the film shows the journey of a young Israeli filmmaker who befriends a group of gay Filipinos who are in Israel to look after elderly orthodox Jewish men, hoping to make a better living than back home. In the process of documenting their lives, he comes to understand his own.


Director’s statement

When I first met the group of gay Filipino migrant workers, who spend the week working as caregivers of elderly Orthodox Jews and then let their hair down on the weekend, performing as drag queens, I was uneasy.

I was 29 when I met them, and even though gay, I was full of homophobia and machoism.
I first met the Dolls with no idea who they were or how they looked. I encountered a group of five people, “not men, not women” and felt uncomfortable, but asked, “Are you the Paper Dolls?” and one of them said, “Of course we’re the Paper Dolls. Do you see any other Paper Dolls around?”

Paper Dolls

I certainly didn’t set out expecting to spend five years growing as close to them as to members of my own family or to focus on them as the subject of my new film, “Paper Dolls,” as they call themselves.

In the five years I shot them everything changed. Israel changed its policy regarding foreign workers and Israelis went from a very positive attitude [towards them] to a really bad and ugly one.

That change, the Dolls’ ownchanging attitudes as they became acculturated, my growing closeness with my subjects, are all documented in the film. Those changes “are” the film.

The Paper Dolls opened my eyes about myself and about Israel. You see these people who are like shadows on the other side of the road from you and then you end up closer to them than to your own people. I also learned something about my own generation of Israelis. At one point in the film one of the Dolls is talking about how much Philippine culture teaches respect and love for the elderly. But my generation forgot about respect for older people. The movie is a lot about rediscovering those values.

 


Film Festivals

Berlin Film Festival, Germany 2006 Hartford Jewish Film Festival, USA 2006 Transgender Film Festival , The Netherlands 2007
The Pink Apple Film Festival, Switzerland 2006 Maine Jewish Film Festival, USA 2006 The Nigah Queer Fest, New Dehli, India 2007
Los Angeles Film Festival, USA 2006 The Loft Cinema, USA 2006 The Jewish Film Festival Barcelona, Spain 2007
Melbourne- International Film Festival Australia 2006 Wayne State University, USA 2006 Identities Queer Film Festival, Austria 2007
New Zealand International Film Festival – 2006 Columbus Jewish Film Festival, USA 2006 Skip City International D (Digital)- Cinema Festival 2007
Bergen International Film Festival, Norway, 2006 Univ. Wisconsin Israeli Film Festival Stockholm Pride, Sweden 2007
Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil 2006 Vienna’s International Queer Film Festival, Austria 2007 International 1001 Documentary Film Festival, Istanbul 2007
Rio International Film Festival, Brazil 2006 Mardi Gras Film Festival, Australia, 2007 DNA Film Festival, Toronto 2007
Jewish Film Festival, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2006 The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival  Hamburg Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2007
Cinemanila International Film Festival, Philippines 2006 Torino International GBLT Film Festival 2007  Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema 2007
Kassel Documentary Film & Video Festival, Germany 2006 Planete Doc Review, Poland ‏2007  Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Film Festival 2007