Programmed by Deann Louise C. Nardo
English, French, Tagalog
Every year, thousands of women enter Canada as domestic servants, the majority of them from the Philippines. Leaving their own children and families behind, they can spend many isolated years cooking, cleaning, and caring for others. Sending much of their wages back home, they dream of the day their families can join them. When Strangers Re-unite looks at what happens after years of separation and sacrifice. Virtual strangers at the airport, family members face a confusing journey of rebuilding relationships while adapting to an often-unwelcoming environment. Within the Filipino community in Canada, several groups and organizations have been actively working for the rights and welfare of migrant workers. It is largely thanks to them that most of these families are able to overcome what can seem like insurmountable obstacles. Filmed in Toronto, Montreal, and the Philippines, this candid and touching portrait reveals three families in the midst of healing with the strangers they love.
A word from Tënk
When Strangers Re-unite takes a sympathetic look at the emotional experiences of three families, showing the true cost of migration on their relationships. Watching this film, I was struck by the parallels with what I went through myself, as my mother was an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker), taking care of other children abroad while my grandparents took care of me back home. The toll it took on our relationship was enormous, and we are still trying to heal after decades. These stories of family separation are about how larger forces affect individual lives: humans as exports, dehumanization, class struggles, and the continuing effects of colonization. As part of a group collecting migration stories from 1991 to to the present, it is striking to see that the stories in this film echo with the stories that we still gather now, how the script seems to repeat generationally just with different people. This pattern brings awareness to the fact that although some policies have changed incrementally, the systemic damages of labour migration still remain strong. Yet many people are in constant antipodal action and organizations are actively fighting for migrant rights, most of whom are the migrants themselves: re-building, re-imagining, and re-claiming their own stories.
Deann Louise C. Nardo
One of the organizers of Pulso ng Bayan