Pinay domestic helper wins acting citation in US film festival for ‘Remittance’

A movie about the difficult circumstances of Filipino domestic helpers, shot in Singapore and featuring real-life maids as actors, this week won awards at the Brooklyn Film Festival, where over 100 films were shown.

Remittance won Certificates of Outstanding Achievement for female actor (Angela Barotia) and screenplay (Patrick Daly and Joel Fendelman).

Part of the film was shot in the Philippines, though last we heard, the film directors (Daly and Fendelman) don’t have any distributions or screenings planned in the country.

“It is a crying shame that the girls who took part may not have their families see this film, which is in large part of the reason they wanted to take part,” says Rob O’Brien, the expat journalist in Singapore who wrote a moving piece about his kids’ Pinay nanny in 2015.

O’Brien has also written about Remittance, which was shot in Sinapore in 2013 on a budget of $50,000. 

“It follows the wlife of Marie, a foreign domestic worker from the Philippines — played by Angela Barotia — as she struggles to cope with demanding employers, long hours of work, and separation from her family,” wrote O’Brien.

“Remittance has only three professional actors in it and an ensemble cast of mainly Filipina domestic workers and laborers, who responded to casting calls through Singapore NGOs. Angela works full-time as a domestic worker. Yolanda Bermas, another cast member, gave up her weekly day off to star in the film.”

Here are some behind the scene clips of the movie.

According to the report, Angela moved to Singapore in 2009 from Albay-Bicol (where she sold vegetables) so she could earn money to support her husband and two daughters.

She was lucky that her boss allowed her to star in the film, “even taking on a new worker for three months to allow her time to shoot.”

Organizers of the Singapore International Film Festival weren’t so accommodating — the move was turned down.

Remittance ended up joining film festivals across the United States, eventually at the Brooklyn Film Festival where it won awards on Jun 14.

Watch the movie trailer below.

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