Sunday, August 08, 2010

THE HOUSEMAID (2010, Anna Hoffmann, A++++++++++)


1.MONGA (2010, Doze Niu, Taiwan, A+)

2.DESIGN: LE CONCORDE (2007, Danielle Schirman, documentary, A+)

3.ICONS OF FRENCH DESIGN (curated by Cedric Morrisset, exhibition)


1.THE HOUSEMAID (2010, Anna Hoffmann, Germany, documentary, A+++++++++++)

I think this film is the humanist side of IMPORT/EXPORT (2007, Ulrich Seidl, A+).

Things I like in this film include:

1.1 How it shows the suffering of ordinary people in this world. I think the three main ladies in this film (the maid, the maid's mother, the employer) suffer or are unhappy with their lives, but they find it is very hard or impossible to improve their lives. And it is not their faults at all. Life is suffering, no matter whether you live in Eastern Europe or Western Europe. The maid and her family seems to suffer financially, while the employer suffers because of her old age, and we know that after this documentary ends, she may suffer more from her old age until she dies.

1.2 I want to cry when the mother finds out that her daughter is dismissed from her job. The film doesn't really emphasize on the mother's sadness, or the film doesn't show her sadness directly. By doing so, the film unintentionally allows me to imagine what I would feel like if I were the mother. And I think I would feel very sad. I imagine myself as a poor mother, a poor mother who fights hard with the difficulties in life, hoping that one day my daughter will escape poverty and have a stable life with food to eat and a house to live in. And then one day all this dream is destroyed, maybe temporarily, when I find out that my daughter is jobless again. This film is heartbreaking.

1.3 The film makes me feel suspicious about the real reason for the dismissal. The employer cited a few financial reasons for the dismissal, but I suspect the real reason might be the jealousy that the employer felt when she saw her maid touched the employer's paralyzed husband. Because this film is a documentary, we may never finds out the real reason. If this film was a fiction, maybe the filmmaker would have felt tempted to give us more clues about the real reason for the dismissal.

1.4 The film makes me feel ambiguous towards the employer. If this film was a fiction, maybe the employer would have been painted as a villainess. But because this film is a documentary, we are left wondering if the dismissal is really justified or not, if the maid is too lazy, if the maid really eats too much, if the antagonism between the employer and the maid is justified, etc. I end up feeling that I don't like the employer, but she is still very different from villainesses in fiction films. She is very old and has trouble moving around. Her husband is paralyzed. She has so many problems with her life now. I don't know if I should hate her or have a pity on her. She is just a human being. And I think I shouldn't judge a human being too easily.

1.5 If I were the employer, I might have committed suicide. I wouldn't have the strength to go on living like this. It is heartbreaking to see the old photographs of the employer and her husband. I imagine that their lives would have been full of happiness in the past, but happiness is temporary.

If I have to screen THE HOUSEMAID, I would like to screen it with two groups of films. The first group is films about maids. The second group is documentary films about difficult lives of women.

The first group of films consists of:

--HOME (2006, Wannisa Aiamlaong, Thailand, 18 min)
--LIVE-IN MAID (2004, Jorge Gaggero, Argentina)
--PARALLEL (2002, Panu Aree, Thailand, 13 min)

The second group of films consists of:

--LOVE AND DIANE (2002, Jennifer Dworkin, USA)
--OUR TIMES (2002, Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Iran)
--PAPER CANNOT WRAP UP EMBERS (2007, Rithy Panh, Cambodia)
--A WEDDING IN RAMALLAH (2002, Sherine Salama, Palestine/USA)
--WITTSTOCK, WITTSTOCK (1997, Volker Koepp, Germany)

2.TEARS OF THE FIREFLY (2009, Antoine Mocquet, France, A+++++)

3.BABA YAGA (2006, Frédéric Dano, France, A+++++)

4.CLOSE FRIEND (2008, Patchara Eaimtrakul, Thailand, A+++++)

5.THE LINE THAT DIVIDES (Romain Beaudéan, France, A+)

6.DONE (2008, Andrea Brandao, Australia, A+)

7.EYES DOWN (Kamal Lazraq, France, A+)

8.SOI CHANG: ELEPHANTS ON THE STREET (2010, Low Ting Yi, Singapore/Thailand, documentary, A+)

9.LETHAL SQUARE (2008, David Ctiborsky, France, A+)

10.WHEN THE WIND BLOWS (2008, Skan Aryurapong, Australia, A+)

11.EULOGY FOR EUGENE (2009, Ben Claremont, Australia, A+)

12.7:23 (2007, Brian Lien, Australia, A+)

13.OWNED (2009, Cara Lipson Dvorjak, Australia, A+/A)

14.4 ROLLS (2008, Gustavo Faraco, Australia, A)

15.HOTEL (2008, Erik Skanmyr, Australia, A)

16.LOVE SONG, THE MUSICAL (2010, Calvin Choo, Singapore, A)

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