The Paper Dolls

The film Paper Dolls was a very moving documentary about a group of Pilipino transsexuals that reside in Israel and perform at night as the Paper Dolls. All of the women were very funny and I found myself getting more attached to them as the film went on.

One interesting thing about this documentary was that the film maker was on camera quite a bit during the film. Most documentaries are not filmed this way and I feel that it made me connect to the film more than I usually would. It was also very interesting to watch Tomer get attached to these women. When the film began he thought that they were strange and was embarrassed by them, however as time went on he developed a very strong bond with the characters and was shown standing up for them a number of times.

The most disturbing part of the documentary in my opinion was when the girls got to do a show at a very well known night club in Israel. I felt that the owner of the club exploited them and disrespected both the culture that they came from and their sexual orientation. He dressed them up as geishas and made them stand at the entrance to the club and bow as people entered. Looking at the Paper Doll’s faces I could tell that they were bothered by how he was treating them. Their faces which were usually filled with happiness were solemn and you could tell that they were not having fun during the performance. It was not surprising to me that they decided to only perform at that club once.

One interesting fact that the documentary presented was the work that the Paper Dolls did on top of performing. Almost all of them were caregivers for older Jewish gentlemen. One of the Paper Dolls, Sally, took care of a man that had lost his voice box due to throat cancer. He was quoted saying he did not quite understand Sally but that they were connected nonetheless. In fact, they got so close that he bought her a skirt and shirt for Passover. I thought that their connection was very moving because he accepted Sally for who she was even though he did not quite understand why she was that way. It was awesome to see him be so accepting of her and to watch their bond grow daily.

Unfortunately not all of the Paper Dolls connected with their employers as well as Sally did. One of the Paper Dolls, Jan, had to act as a man around his employer and then change into his normal clothes after he got off. This was kind of disturbing to me. I feel that Jan should not have had to hide her true identity but she did. In fact she was laid off of her job because she was different.

All of the Paper Dolls moved out of Israel towards the end of the documentary. Most of them are now working as caregivers in London. I commend them for being able to take care of people with such love on a day to day basis because I know that I could not do their jobs and I truly find them inspirational.

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