Sex: My British Job

Well, not mine. It’s a documentary directed by Nick Broomfield starring Hsiao-Hung Pai looking at the hidden world of the prostitution of Chinese illegal immigrants.

Starring is probably the wrong term to use here as the documentary is predominantly filmed through her eyes by way of a secret camera hidden in her glasses. As such the footage is all fairly low quality but the topic is so absorbing that you soon forget about shaky, low quality image.

In the documentary Hsiao-Hung Pai works as a maid in a brothel in London and her duties include cleaning, cooking and answering the phone. This is about 14 hours a day every day all for about £100 a week. Those are meant to be her duties however as the film progresses there is increasing pressure put on her to work as a prostitute with the madam getting more and more aggressive and verbally abusive the more she resists. You can see Pai getting more depressed as time passes and in the end she agrees to prostitute herself, calls in Nick and gets out. The documentary finishes with Pai, accompanied by Nick, going to confront the madam about her behaviour and the way she victimises the vulnerable girls who through being undocumented cannot work in legal well paid jobs.

As I said above, this documentaries strength lies not in its visuals but rather in the immersive investigation that Pai undertook.

In my own work I’m trying hard to produce strong high end visuals but maybe I shouldn’t get too tied up with that.