Sung-a Yoon’s Belgian-French documentary examines the training of Filipina maids leaving behind their own families to enter the global domestic workforce.

The most sympathetic, illuminating study of domestic labor since Roma, French writer-director Sung-a Yoon’s documentary hybrid Overseas ranked among nonfiction titles unveiled at the Locarno International Film Festival this year. Observing the training of maids from the Philippines before they are sent off around the world to join the teeming ranks of the nation’s “OFWs” (Overseas Filipino Workers), the Belgium-France co-production is a cleverly constructed and briskly edited glimpse into the tough realities of a semi-invisible profession. Plentiful further festival bookings will follow for this first feature-length offering from the Korea-born, Brussels-based director.

It arrives some seven years after Full of Missing Links, Yoon’s 68-minute autobiographical essay-film which she made after a decade of more conceptual shorts. Here she takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to an inner-city training facility, where young women receive rigorous and extensive instruction in what to expect in their new workplaces. The potential hazards and negatives of the job are repeatedly emphasized (“it’s a matter of luck”), and the film includes plentiful first-person testimony of verbal and even physical abuse: Many OFW maids complain of being treated like robots or slaves, with sleep and/or food deprivation not uncommon. “Never cry in front of your employers,” the trainees are told by one no-nonsense instructor, “it shows weakness. Filipinos are not weak!”

Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

  • Elokuvan nimi / Film Title : Overseas
  • Kieli / Language : English, Filipino
  • Tekstitys / Subtitles : English
  • Ohjaaja / Director : Sung-a Yoon
  • Tuotantomaa / Production Country : Belgium, France
  • Vuosi / Year : 2019
  • Pituus (min) / Length (min) : 90
  • Ikäraja / Age limit : K12
  • Esitysformaatti / Format : DCP
  • Kuvaaja / Cinematographer : Thomas Schira
  • Leikkaus / Editing : Dieter Diependaele
  • Musiikki / Music : Frederic Verrieres
  • Tuotantoyhtiö / Production Company : Iota Production, Les Films de l’oeil sauvage
  • Esitysajat / Screenings :
    Wed 29.1. at 17.30, Kinopalatsi 8
    Fri 31.1. at 17.00, Maxim 1
    Sun 2.2. at 15.00, Kiasma