Dir/scr: Tomer Heymann. Is-Swiss.2005. 80mins.
A surefire winner on specialistcircuits, Paper Dolls, Tomer Heymann's documentary abouta group of Filipino transsexuals in Israel has everything a successful pictureneeds: endearing characters, tears, laughter, heartbreak and an explosiveclimax at the most unexpected moment.
Originally commissioned as asix-part TV series, it has now been cut to feature length. Further editingcould make it an even more lucrative proposition, both for theatrical and TV.
Heymann opens his feature in traditional manner,establishing the individual identity of his five protagonists in such a way itis hard to dislike them. What could easily have become a quasi freakshow in lesser hands instead evolves into a series oftouching portraits.
His involvement with themgrows more personal with time, to the extent that his mother's home at onepoint hosts auditions to showcase their talents to a Tel Aviv disco.
Brought in to take jobsIsraelis did not want like caring for the elderly and the sick, the Filipinoshave developed a solid reputation for being good workers and developedaffectionate ties with their employers.
The drag costumes and open sexualityof the five Paper Dolls might beunacceptable at home, but they are taken in the stride of the more permissiveIsraeli society (even Orthodox Jews are willing to willing to employ a gayFilipino).
Heymann is also heartbroken when the inevitable happens andthey are no longer wanted; like all foreign workers the world over, they are toldto go, either by their own accord or by force.
Although there are manymoving moments, the most significant is when a terrorist bomb hits the part oftown largely inhabited by foreign workers.
One Filippinolooks on, shocked to the core, and for the first time seems to wonder what itall has to do with him.
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Lavi Ben Gal
Troan Jacob Libas
Jose Neil Datinguinoo