Housemaids are an integral part of the household in Brazil, and participate in the day-to-day life of the family. The employment of housemaids is almost obligatory among the middle and upper classes of the country. The vast majority of these housemaids are black women, who face high levels of inequality based on their gender, race and social class. Their role in the household raises important questions about public and private space, endurance and choice, and labor and family life.

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For HOUSEMAIDS, director Gabriel Mascaro asked seven adolescents to film their family's housemaids for one week, and hand the footage over to him. Their images uncover the complex relationship that exists between housemaids and their employers, a relationship that confuses intimacy and power in the workplace and provides us with an insight into the echoes of a colonial past that linger in contemporary Brazil.

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HOUSEMAIDS exposes and explores a hidden daily reality of Brazilian life.

"No other film has ever managed to portray as deeply what is ingrained in the Brazilian unconsciousness." —Luiz Carlos Merten, Estadao

"HOUSEMAIDS is humorous and sensitive, whilst also managing to be a profound work of denunciation…This is a rare example of recent Brazilian cinema that is capable of unsettling the very core of anyone who sees it ... an historic documentary." —Pedro Butcher, Folha de Sao Paulo

"Highlights the historical weight that underpins each casual gesture, each behavioral standard we so distractedly repeat as we go about our quotidian choreography." —Fabio Andrade, Cinetica Magazine

"[HOUSEMAIDS] will jumpstart a robust dialogue in the classroom about global migration, labor markets, patriarcy and women's laboring bodies." —Professor Radha S. Hegde, New York University, in the journal Films for the Feminist Classroom

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A film by Gabriel Mascaro

Select Accolades

  • Buenos Aires International Film Festival 2013
  • Best Film, Panorama Internacional Coisa de Cinema 2012
  • Special Mention, Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival 2012
  • IndieLisboa, Portugal 2012
  • FIDOCS Documentary Festival, Chile 2012


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