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By Phil Hall | June 18, 2011

Filmmaker Beth Miranda Botshon supplemented her graduate school education by working as a live-in nanny for affluent New York families. She was, however, something of a New York rarity: a white American citizen paid to take care of wealthy people’s youngsters. Botshon’s documentary “Other People’s Children” focuses on three immigrant women – two from Mexico and one from the Philippines – who work as full-time nannies. One of the Mexican women has citizenship and a babysitter for her own children, while the other two have stayed past the expiration of their visas and use their earnings to support their families in their countries.

To her credit, Botshon captures the variety of emotions and challenges that the women face, ranging from exploitation by dishonest employers to snippy exchanges with mothers who second-guess how the nannies do their jobs. However, Botshon’s film strangely avoids pursuing some of the obvious questions that emerge with the employment of illegal aliens – and an interview with the employer of one of the visa-expired workers comes across as a dreadfully missed opportunity to ask hard questions.

Even worse, we barely get to know the pre-nanny lives of the women – the woman from the Philippines briefly speaks of being was a national track-and-field star, but the Mexican women offer no clue regarding their lives before arriving in New York. It a shame that Botshon did not give her film more clarity, because there is a fascinating story that is barely told in her disappointing documentary.

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