Maids & Bosses

Empleadas y patrones

  • Abner Benaim
  • Panama, Argentina
  • 2010
  • 58 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary
The front doors of the expensive houses and apartments in Panama, where families and their domestic staff sometimes live together for many years, hide a world of ignorance and prejudice. Maids and Bosses uses smoothly edited atmospheric shots and interviews accompanied by music to create a picture of the complex relationships between employers and their staff. A variety of women and girls explain how as young girls they said farewell to their rural lives (and sometimes their own children) to work far away from their native region as a nanny or domestic. They talk of the long hours, difficult work, low or unpaid salaries, unjustified accusations, and even abuse. In turn, the employers complain about their employees' unreliability or lack of skill. Nevertheless, the women sometimes live with a single family in their home for many years. This inevitably leads to close personal ties, and there is sometimes a sense of fondness, but they seldom bridge the chasm between the social classes: a fact made explicit by the scene in which a housemaid eats in the kitchen, while her elderly mistress eats at the dining table in the foreground.


  • 58 min
  • color
  • video
  • Spoken languages: Spanish
  • Subtitles in: English
Abner Benaim
Abner Benaim for Apertura Films, Marcelo Schapces for Barakacine
Executive producer
Alejandro Israel for Barakacine
Alejandra Martín
Fernando Vega, Carlos Revelo

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary
Supported with €10000 for Classic: Production & postproduction

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IDFA history

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