This film’s main characters aren’t your regular beauty pageant contestants — but “Sunday Beauty Queen” is making a big splash on the international film circuit.
Fresh from winning Best Picture at the Metro Manila Film Festival, director Baby Ruth Villarama recently joined community members and elected officials for its North American premier at the Pacific Arts Movement’s San Diego Asian Film Festival spring showcase.
The documentary follows Hong Kong-based Filipino domestic workers for 4 years, showing that despite their struggles as OFWs, these workers — mostly women — find comfort and pride in competing in local beauty pageants.
“I just want to tell them that everyone deserves to wear a crown. Sunday Beauty Queen is really about feeling beautiful inside and out,” said Villarama. “At kahit ano pa dinagdaanan ano naman ng trabaho mo caregiver ka man or isang bahay, you deserve to have a day off you deserve to be beautiful.”
While the movie takes place in Hong Kong, the documentary hits close to home for many Filipinos — including the filmmaker herself.
“I use to have some friends that use to be a domestic helper, and some of them cannot really bear the situation,” said Susan De Los Santos.
“It’ll give a lot of our OFWs a voice,” said Audie de Castro, Honorary Consul General. “I think that’s a story that’s untold; we hear about it a little bit through the news, but I think the film will give a better perspective to people.”
“I’ve worked as a crew-ship photographer for 7 months in Miami, so sa akin parang na intindihan ko yung pagod talaga ng kababayan natin nag tra trabajo malayo sa pamilya nila,” Villarama shared of her personal story. “And my mom was once a domestic worker. I can openly say I’m a proud daughter of a domestic helper. I just want to make this as an homage for them.”
Next stop for the Filipina director is the Toronto for the Hot Docs International Canadian documentary festival. She hopes to tour the film through North America where more OFWs can watch the film, and raise issues about their working conditions.
While the awards and accolades are a source of pride, the ultimate crown for Sunday Beauty Queen may come next month when filmmakers, government officials, and OFWs themselves will have a meeting to discuss the issues that the movie raised.