These three short films dealing with queer refugees or migrant workers are heartbreaking, infuriating, but also thoughtful and nuanced.
Sikat – Angelina Cantada
Sikat is a Filipino live-in domestic and nanny, eagerly awaiting the arrival of her husband and son to Canada. But when they do arrive her son doesn’t even recognise her.
The inter-title at the end explains that caregivers such as Sikat have to work in the same household for at least 24 months before they can begin the process of sponsoring their families for immigration, which takes at least three more years. In practice they may be separated from their loved ones for even longer than that, since many Filipino/a workers come to Canada by way of the Middle East or Western Europe.
Das Phallometer – Tor Iben
In this darkly humorous short a phallometric testing is used on an Iranian refugee at the Czech Republic border to test his claim that he really is homosexual. He passes the test, and the border guards welcome him with open arms. This procedure was ruled by the EU to be demeaning and a violation of human rights, and discontinued several years ago.
Boy – Tami Ravid
Boy (photo above) is the story of an illegal Filipino migrant worker, living in a big city in the Netherlands. Semi-invisibly he makes the beds and cleans the counters, while eavesdropping on his employers’ affairs and goings-on. When they do see him, it’s mostly as a submissive piece of ass, an idealised noble poor person, or a greedy ignorant poor person always on the lookout for the next sugar daddy.
All of this is true, none of this is true. Our unnamed protagonist is far from perfect, but he’s got a sharp mind, had a genuine and non-romantic bond with one of his employers, and all his spare money goes to either his parents back home or to support his boyfriend’s budding dance career. He’s a fully fleshed out individual that no one, including his boyfriend and even the audience, can truly see.
Boy is a quietly intense, thoughtful piece that lets us step in the shoes not only of migrant workers but of any person considered “other” by the dominant culture.
Sikat + Das Phallometer + Boy. No further showings at the 2014 Vancouver Queer Film Festival.
Nicolas Demers is a web developer and blogger living in Vancouver’s West End. In his spare time he enjoys science-fiction, photography, and is actively involved with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association.