‘Paper Dolls’


As Israel grows rapidly more polyglot, hostility toward gays has lightened up. Only a little, though—as is painfully evident from Tomer Heymann’s tender study of gender-transitioning Filipino men who, ostracized by family and community in their native country, come to Israel as guest workers and care for elderly, mostly Orthodox Jewish men. Like foreign workers everywhere, they do indispensable jobs no one else wants to do, while remaining marginalized and vulnerable to exploitation. Still, Paper Dolls, which tracks a group of these workers through their day jobs and drag act, is far from a chronicle of misery. Nor is it dispassionate: Observing the close relationships they develop with clients, the openly gay Heymann becomes, both hilariously and wistfully, part of a community that possesses in spades what’s missing in his own life—the gift of happiness and living well in unfriendly surroundings.