How do you protect yourself against sexual harassment? How do you deal with abuse of any kind from a boss? And what’s the right way to serve a meal? In the Philippines, future housekeepers undergo training to handle demanding employers in places such as Dubai and Hong Kong. In static shots we see the trainees participating in role-playing games, alternating between the role of employer and subordinate. The resulting scenes are surreal. Soon to be separated from their own young families for many years, the women note down how to wash a baby in a tub, or help dress a woman who can’t do it herself.
Every year, these kinds of government-accredited training centers in the Philippines prepare 200,000 housekeepers for work overseas. The film also follows some of the women as they make preparations for life in a foreign country with a foreign family. They exchange experiences and horror stories about bizarre working conditions. Bordering on fiction, Overseas brings to light the question of modern servitude in our globalized world, while emphasizing these women’s determination, their sisterhood, and the strategies they find to face the ordeals that await them in the near future.