Paper Dolls

There have been many beneficial films about gender variant individuals. They have been increasingly depressing because of the many obstacles that each individual faces and tried to overcome. We have learned about gender rights and equality and yet there is still quite the amount of speculation that makes it difficult for people who identify as transgender to receive the same rights. In the film Paper Dolls directed by Tomer Heymann in 2005 we see the struggles that Filipino gender variant individuals face on a daily basis. This film which is set in a documentary style format includes the individuals ways of life such as their jobs, their responsibilities, and their performances as Paper Dolls.

Of the many films we have viewed, I consider this one to have the greatest impact on my thoughts of gender variant people. That is the key thing when discussing a sometimes uncomfortable subject; they are people, people with the same worth as everyone else but having to overcome some hardships of being born with the wrong identity. We first observe that this film takes place in Israel, what I had thought to be a very conservative and Jewish place. We do see some of the religious aspects come about when the films “stars” are at work. They do not have the typical job that most of us would think of when living in Israel. Many of them are caretakers and watch over and care for the elderly or those who cannot take care of themselves. I found this to be an interesting aspect of the film because the men that they take care of have different view of what they think of the gender variant individuals.

Some of the people that were filmed in this were Cheska, Chiqui, Jan, Sally, and Giorgio. They all had their own stories of why they moved to Israel, who they were taking care of, or the other jobs that they were involved in, including Giorgio’s hair salon. We find that these are the ordinary individuals that we learn to talk to and trust and that they each have their own dreams. One of the most significant parts of this film is their dance routine and group, the Paper Dolls. They perform for many people including Tomer, the film’s creator. He becomes increasingly interested with them and follows them throughout their daily lives and even gets some of his friends involved in watching them perform even though they were quite skeptical at the beginning.

The film not only focuses on their performances and hwo they got asked to perform and a highly sought after night club, but it observes their struggles with a personal and memorable point of view. In the end of the film, it is heartbreaking to find that many of them have to go back to the Philippines because of their lack of visa to stay there. In their home country, they are not treated the same or with some of the equalities that they are given in Israel.

We were given a chance to see and feel each gender variant individual’s story. They were all different with empowering personalities and loving hearts. Overall I think this was a touching film about the struggles a gender variant person faces each day and how there are some people who are willing to understand their lives and their predicaments. It is something everyone should get the chance to watch because it truly proves how everyone has worth even if they are considered to be different.


One response to “Paper Dolls

  1. I thought this was one of the most interesting films we watched during this semester. I had never encountered the concept of the chain of care paradigm until this class, and I thought that it was interesting that the characters in the film predominately take care of the elderly. I thought the most interesting aspect of the film was the director’s involvement. He became deeply invested in the individuals he was interviewing, yet he never seems to change his perspective.

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