Transit, a Filipino independent film written and directed by Hannah Espia and produced by young filmmaker Paul Soriano, was featured at the 26th Vancouver Jewish Film Festival on Nov. 9 as a fundraising event toward building a drop-in place for caregivers.
The multi-awarded film competed in Cinemalaya 2013 and won best film, directing, acting and other technical awards under the New Breed category. It was the Philippine entry to the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Oscar Awards and won special mention in the New Currents section of the Busan 2014 Film Festival.
Transit starred Irma Adlawan, Ping Medina, Mercedes Cabral, Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Marc Alvarez, all of whom needed to learn Hebrew in order to effectively play their roles in the film, according to Soriano, who flew in from Los Angeles for the special screening.
The film is about a single father who is forced to hide his child from immigration police in Israel after the Israeli government decides to deport young children of immigrant workers.
Soriano said the inspiration to do the film came from Hannah, whose family owns a travel agency which specializes in Holy Land tours. One time, on her way home from Israel, Hannah noticed OFWs with young children congregating in one corner of the airport. There, she learned about the deportations of young children.
In 2009, the Israeli government enacted a law that mandated the deportation of an undisclosed number of children of migrant workers from the Jewish state unless they fulfill certain criteria. Based on Israeli law, once migrant workers have children, they must send the children back home if they want to continue their employment.
Proceeds of the highly-acclaimed movie will benefit CARE (Caregivers Assistance Resources and Education) Centre, a place where caregivers and domestic helpers can come home to on their days off and where they can receive training to improve their skills.
Prof. Prod Laquian, a community adviser and member of the steering committee of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights (CDWCR), said they have high hopes of making the centre a reality next year. “We are pleased that we can now put in a down payment for the centre. Many people and institutions have come forward to help raise funds for this caregivers’ ‘home away from home’.
Laquian cited the city of Vancouver for helping them find possible sites and funding feasibility studies for the centre. According to Laquian, location of the centre will most probably be in East Vancouver.
He said the centre can be a haven for caregivers who face emergency problems with their employers; those who are in need of temporary shelter; those seeking camaraderie, counseling or referrals from other domestic workers.
Prof. Laquian added that the management of Scotiabank has promised to match the funds up to $15,000.