About this project
Stretch goal added!
We have hit the original target of 80,000 USD - thanks to our fantastic backers up to now. With a stretch goal of 90,000 USD - we are aiming to spend an extended time in the Philippines and Indonesia, discovering the backgrounds and the roots of the Unsung Heroes of Hong Kong.
What this film is about
THE HELPER documentary will follow The Unsung Heroes, a choir of migrant domestic helpers living and working in Hong Kong, as they rehearse ‘I Wish I Could Kiss You Goodnight’, a song with a poignant message to the children they’ve left behind in Indonesia, the Philippines and their other home countries.
The film will explore the varied individual stories of the women in the choir, two-thirds of whom are mothers. Peeling back the veneer of their daily routines, we will explore the hardships and exploitation they suffer, their vulnerability within their adopted city and ultimately the challenges they are determined to overcome to provide a better life for their families.
The uplifting finale of the film will see the choir take to the main stage on the Sunday night of the Clockenflap music festival and share their song with an audience of thousands of appreciative Hongkongers.
There are currently more than 330,000 migrant domestic workers living in Hong Kong. All too often, they are overlooked and dehumanised. At worse, they are abused and mistreated. We want to tell some of their stories and help to change the way they are viewed within society.
Why you should care
Working hard to create a better future lies at the heart of the Hong Kong way of life. And at the core of many hard-working families living in the city today, there is a migrant domestic helper. Their voices deserve to be heard.
For many parents around the world, the idea of leaving their young child behind in another country with the knowledge they won't see each other for two years or more is unimaginable.
For these migrant worker women (usually from the Philippines or Indonesia but occasionally Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh), it's a necessary sacrifice to fund their children's education and improve their family's standard of living, since it is generally impossible to find employment in their home countries that will pay anywhere near as much.
The term "helper" is specifically used in reference to Hong Kong's migrant domestic worker population. Unfortunately, it can strip them of the dignity accorded to workers, implying that they can be mistreated, rather than afforded the rights due to them as outlined in their employment contract.
According to Hong Kong law it costs only the equivalent of US$530 per month for a full-time, live-in domestic helper. Typical duties include cleaning and cooking for the family and very often stretch to childcare or care of elderly relatives. The presence of a helper in a household often allows both adults to commit to full-time employment, dramatically raising the median income of the average family.
Why you might have heard about them
On February 27th 2015 a Hong Kong woman, Law Wan-Tung, was sentenced to six years in prison for physically abusing her Indonesian helper, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. Erwiana was beaten and burned daily, only allowed to sleep a maximum of four hours per night and given very restricted amounts of food. This case of modern-day slavery struck a chord in Hong Kong and beyond even before the verdict, and Erwiana was named as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People In The World in April 2014.
What's our focus?
Erwiana won't be the focus of our film, as her story's already been told many times. Instead, we aim to showcase a range of different helper's stories, shining a light on the humanity and spirit behind this often-taken-for-granted sector of Hong Kong society.
Special Thanks to:
Mandy Queen at Cred Communications - PR
Jane Engelmann - Founder of Unsung Heroes Choir
Craig Hollingsworth - Additional Footage
Allison Burton-Parker - Graphic Design
Paul Kay - Copywriting
Tom Mitchell at Treacle - Editing/Animation and Titles
Simon Fuller at EightFiveTwo - Additional Footage and Color Grade
Kurt Kamka - Photography
Lisa Henderson - Production/Post-Production Assistant
Justin Sweeting, Mike Hill and Jay Forster - Clockenflap
Alan Bell and Emily Lau - Domestic Helpers Roundtable
Scott Carpenter - Superstar intern
Victor Peña - Editing
Pathfinders, Enrich, Mission For Migrant Workers, Justice Centre Hong Kong.
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Risks and challenges
- Although we are confident we will finish filming by the end of November 2015, its possible that ongoing storylines may delay us wrapping production and moving into post-production. If this does happen, we'll just have to start editing as we finish filming to stay on track.
- Since we are filming real people and their stories it's possible we will get led in a slightly different direction to our initially planned concept. This is part of the excitement and interest of telling true stories and will only make the film even better.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
All reward amounts are in US dollars.
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