A Filipina migrant domestic worker constructs home in the interstices, through magical Philippine folktales and apartment gardening
About this project
The Issue: The Philippines’ political economy is shaped by a decades-long labor export policy, sending its workers to over 190 countries. About 10 percent of the country’s population works abroad, the majority of whom are women. Known as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), these workers rarely have any legal protection and thus face human trafficking, fraudulent agencies, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. OFWs serve as the backbone of the national economy by contributing more than 10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Almost every Filipino family has at least one member who is an OFW. For many families, their OFW relative provides their only hope to escape poverty.
In the US and Canada, many OFWs are employed as domestic workers. Some arrive with diplomat employers who are officially immune to labor laws, and they may become victims of labor trafficking. Domestic worker organizations and alliances are gaining some success in protecting domestic worker rights, but generally speaking, OFW domestic workers experience hardship and isolation. Working in the homes of the wealthy, these workers must come up with strategies to maintain their sense of identity and cultural connectedness.
The Documentary Film: “A Notion of Home”
Our film reveals the nuanced experiences, passions, stories and dreams of an OFW FIlipina domestic worker, Mila. Our 12-15 minute film is an experimental, collaboratively-written and character-driven documentary that combines fact and fiction. There are no talking heads, “experts” or statistics in this film; it does not explicitly tackle the socio-economic and political issues in a “traditional doc” way. It uses artful observation, interviews, story-within-a-story and scripted elements to question the issues.
This film reveals Mila’s inherent creativity and strategies to construct home, nestled in the intersection between current living/working environment and nostalgia/longing for homeland. The film explores the space between homeland and adopted home, suggesting that home exists tentatively in the in-between. Migrant workers are the embodiment of globalization, and their complex lives have much to reveal.
We need your support in order to finish and distribute this film! Co-written by Mila herself, this film will intrigue and move you; if you are part of a diaspora, you will likely see yourself reflected in her story. Help us make it happen! And check out our amazing rewards to the right and look at the sample reward paintings below!
Rough Synopsis: Mila is a warm person, a Filipina domestic worker living in the home of her employer. She delights in telling magical, dreamy Philippine folktales about a “diwata”, a mythical creature that she remembers from growing up. In this memory space, recalling magical encounters with spirit creatures, she constructs a world to slip into, rest and explore. As she narrates, Mila continues domestic work in her employer’s luxurious apartment; she does the dishes, sweeps, dusts and polishes. Mila’s memory becomes a form of survival. Living in her employer’s apartment for 15 years, her relationship to home is complex.
She collects discarded plants from the street in front of wealthy neighbors’ buildings, bringing them back to life in the gardens she grows in the palatial apartment. She tends to these plants with great care. When living circumstances change, Mila must confront loss and adapt with creativity and dignity.
Our talented team is dedicated to the success of this film:
- Kim Baglieri (Director-Producer/ Writer/ Cinematographer) is a queer, Filipinx-mixed race, Brooklyn-based filmmaker and artist whose work investigates collective and personal mythologies. Her mother’s only sister is an OFW, thus Kim has a very personal interest in issues of Philippine migration and labor. Kim is also an educator who teaches film and art to NYC public school students through Dreamyard Project and Studio in School. She has led many community art projects with Filipin@ trafficked domestic workers and Filipin@ youth. Her banners and other projects have helped support Damayan Migrant Workers Association’s Baklas (Break Free) Anti-Trafficking campaign and involvement in the People’s Climate March.
- Mila (Co-Writer) is an expert in gardening, and has been an active participant in environmental justice and human rights organizing efforts for many years. This is her first film project.
- Anna Ozbek (Producer) is a media-maker and video journalist based in New York. She is especially interested in exploring questions around transnational identities, human-environment interactions, and contemporary Turkish history and memory. Her work has appeared in a number of spaces, including Democracy Now!, National Geographic, CNN, and Global Post.
- P. González Ramírez (Sound) is a media-maker and language worker who builds on their experiences in media activism, socially engaged art, cultural programming, anti-oppression practices and political education to strive for justice and liberation. From intimate personal reflections to documenting social and economic issues, the themes at the core of their work are self-determination and autonomy, both at the individual and collective level. Their work is informed by their experience as queer, bilingual, diasporic, working class, womxn migrant. Patri is pursuing an MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College and is a proud worker-owner of Caracol Interpreters Cooperative.
- Lingyun Zheng (Camera) is a filmmaker born and raised in China. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College. She is determined to explore the meaning of Chinese and other Asian cultures in the global cultural environment. Her latest work reveals diasporic issues through a personal story. See a trailer of her latest work here:https://vimeo.com/164030890.
Where Your Money Will Go:
This Kickstarter campaign will fund just over 12% of our full budget. (About 60%-70% of the film has already been shot on borrowed equipment and with donated labor). A small amount of additional foundation funding is anticipated. Specifically, your money will go to production- including travel expenses, equipment rental, payment to the crew and securing insurance. It will also go to post production: securing music rights and professional coloring and sound mixing to prepare for film festival screening. Funding will also go to the distribution and touring of the film, to make it accessible to community and student groups that want to learn about domestic worker issues. (Check out the film’s full budget, linked here: Budget “A Notion of Home”.)
As with all Kickstarter campaigns, we must raise the FULL amount of our fundraising goal or we won’t receive any of it! If you are not able to contribute money you can still be of tremendous help by promoting the campaign on social media and sharing it with the people in your networks!
All of your support is immensely appreciated! Thank you from our deepest heart of hearts, with so much love, gratitude and action towards our people’s collective liberation! We couldn’t do it without you!
Images of Sample Paintings for Rewards #10, #14, #16, #17:
Risks and challenges
With every project there are risks but our team is committed to completing and distributing this film by hook or by crook! If music rights cannot be obtained for our selected music we will do some new field recordings. The Kickstarter campaign will fund most the remainder of our budget (over 12%). A small amount of foundation funding is anticipated. We have funded the rest out of pocket- through donated time and labor, and NY $1 pizza! Possible risks and challenges involve problems with equipment in the Philippines where it may be challenging to efficiently troubleshoot. In the event of emergencies or difficult surprises, adaptations and creative solutions will be found; this film will be made no matter what!