Research, Direction, Editing: Nilita Vachani
Cinematography: Vangelis Kalambakas
Production: Vangelis Kalambakas and Nilita Vachani
Sound: K. Nandhakumar and Costas Poulantzas
Music: Ross Daly
16mm, 109 min documentary. In Sinhala, Greek and Tamil with English subtitles
A FilmSixteen Production for ZDF television, 1995
When Mother Comes Home for Christmas
In today’s globalized economy the first world mother is able to go out and work because of the services of the third world woman who replaces her at home.
Josephine Perera is a migrant worker from Sri Lanka who has spent the last ten years taking care of the homes and families of others. She worked in the Middle East and then moved to Athens, Greece where she takes care of two-year-old Isadora whose mother works in Paris. Josephine has not seen her own children in ten years. They share a less fortunate fate in the home country, left to orphanages and the temporary homes of unwilling relatives. Josephine’s youngest son, Suminda was only two when she migrated, the same age that Isadora is now.
The film juxtaposes the tender loving care that Josephine lavishes upon the Greek child with the stark deprivation of Suminda’s life in the orphanage in Hatton, Sri Lanka.
After an absence of ten years, Josephine finally has her much coveted work visa and can travel to her home country to visit her children. She will be home for a brief month during Christmas. The camera follows her on this historic journey documenting the inevitable feelings of loss and longing, expectation and disappointment of a transitory union.
Through Josephine’s story we are witness to the restructuring of societies when women become bread-winners in foreign lands. Ironically it is through their gender functions that they earn their economic freedom but to the detriment of family and culture and with no hope of assimilation in either world.