The members of the drag queen ensemble Paper Dolls are the subject of Tomer Heymann’s patchy documentary film, which follows the Filipino transvestites of the group throughout their day as they tend to elderly Orthodox men and women and attempt to secure a dream-of-a-lifetime gig at Tel Aviv’s largest nightclub, TLV. The hustle and bustle of these colorful, mostly illegal immigrants is intercut with glimpses of the oppressive social forces that threaten their sanity and stay in Israel. The most vulgar conspirator is not the state of Israel and its immigration policies but racist and homophobic monsters like a taxi driver who goes to ridiculous lengths to explain to Heymann why his subjects are so vile, but Heymann himself is not without his problems. Though the director is gay himself, he sees the in-betweenness of his subjects as an affront to his masculinity, so part of Paper Dolls becomes an attempt on the filmmaker’s part to reconcile his sexual hang-ups, which are seemingly smoothed over when his subjects dress him up as a woman. The goodness of the Paper Dolls is evident in the care they show for their patients, but the film only skims the surface of the Paper Dolls’s personal lives, barely tapping into the dreams that motivate them on a daily basis. Variety‘s Russell Edwards reports that the documentary is actually a distillation of a six-episode Israeli TV series, which goes a long way in explaining the film’s spotty construction, as if it were something being held together by rusted safety pins.
- Strand Releasing
- 80 min
- Tomer Heymann
- Sally Comatoy, Chiqui Diokno, Giorgio Diokno, Troan Jacob Libas, Efrenito Manalili, Jose Neil T. Datinguinoo, Francisco P. Ortiz Jr., Eduardo Javar, Chaim Amir, Noa Heymann
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