Documentary – Denmark / UK Premiere

Showing @ Cineworld, Sat 23 Jun @ 14:25 & Tue 26 Jun @ 18:35

Nicole N Horanyi, Heidi Kim Andersen / Denmark / 2011 / 59 min

It is estimated that one in three Filipino children grow up with one of their parents working abroad. Whether it’s paying for medical bills, trying to provide an education for their children, or generally lifting their families out of poverty, almost every penny gets sent home. In this hour-long documentary, three young women working in Denmark give an honest insight into their struggles with visa issues, social marginalization, and missing their families.

Although not particularly cinematic and much more suited for TV, this is a sensitively told and well framed damnation of rich societies that allow exploitation of the weak. That said, there’s a little too much focus on the obvious; of course working alone thousands of miles away from home is hard. The real problem with the au pair programme – traditionally an expenses-paid cultural exchange – is that it seems little more than a cover for making people work long hours with rare holidays (if any) for a pittance of a salary. This is a point that is only touched upon, and the total absence of an alternative voice gives this film little opportunity to really delve into important legal and ethical issues. What is the government’s position on cheap, imported labour? How do the au pairs’ host families justify exploiting someone is such a vulnerable position? Without this objective angle, this film falls sadly short.