Lahu Video



Writer and director: Jiang Xueqin

Music composed and performed by: Chan Wai Fat

Paintings and additional music by: The Lahu Girls

Producer: Brian Keeley

Brief description: An extraordinarily affective and edifying documentary film, recording what life means to 45 Lahu girls who inhabit Yunnan Province on the Sino - Burmese border "golden triangle" area of the Lancang River. The DVD record is a part of research findings in a five-year longitudinal project which is subsidized by the US Ford Foundation and undertaken by Professor Teng Xing from the nationalities research institute at Central University for Nationalities.

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Candles for New Years (1998) - color - 30 min

David Plath and Jacquetta Hill

For 200 years, groups of Lahu have been migrating from southwestern China into the highlands of Southeast Asia's "Golden Triangle" region. Though they share much with other migrants in the ethnic patchwork of the region, the Lahu maintain a vigorous sense of themselves as a distinct people. New Years is their prime time for celebrating what it means to be Lahu.

Candles For New Years is the first visual portrait of Lahu life prepared for English-speaking viewers. Anthropologist Jacquetta Hill has followed for more than a decade the fate of a group of Lahu who cleared the forest and built a community north of Chiang Mai, Thailand. In this film, she describes the Lahu New Year as celebrated by the community: the elaborate preparations to appease the spirits they rely upon to bring them good fortune, the dancing & feasting and the mingling with friends and relatives from sister villages.

The Music of the Golden Triangle and the Cycles of Life

Victoria Vorreite

A one-hour documentary film formatted for public television, bears witness to the ancestral songs and ceremonies of a number of the 130 different tribal peoples who inhabit the mountains of the Golden Triangle.

Filmed over 3 years in remote hill villages of Laos, Myanmar/Burma, Thailand, and China, the film follows cycles of the earth and passages of life to illustrate a remarkable spectrum of traditional music and rites that infuse their daily and sacred experiences.

The film moves from infancy to old age, highlighting ceremonies rarely witnessed: fertility festival, safe birth ceremony, baby naming, courting and marriage, harvest festival, New Year festival, ancestor worship, healing rites, and funerals. (Documentary Film will be completed in 2011)

The Music of the Golden Triangle Educational Films are a series of approximately 20 in-depth one-hour documentaries based on individual tribal groups, which capture a single ceremony in its entirety. Traditional peoples of Southeast Asia honor their ancestors and spirits with complex, highly organized rituals that last many hours, often many days. The Educational Films offer the essence of these celebrations in a condensed format. Each will feature extended footage of music, rituals and other aspects of traditional daily village life.

Lahu Funnyman [Thai Short Film]

This is an award winning Thai short film about a tribal person who takes offense at a racial slur by a comedian on TV and thus becomes determined to get right up there on the TV, where he can faithfully represent his culture and make it look good.

Lahu Funnyman stars "Yaka Champion", the stage name for Yaka, from the Lahu hilltribe village on Yafu Mountain in Chiang Rai, Thailand. While on Yafu Mountain Yaka struck me as a fun guy who could be just as fun on film, so I asked him to be in this movie. During the filming of Lahu Funnyman Yaka actually did a number of performances with a comedy group I co-founded, and was really funny even though he'd never been in any kind of staged show before. 

This film was produced for the Mirror Art Foundation (an awesome charity, check them out at and!)and made possible through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Because the film was for charity many famous comedians were happy to make cameo appearances free of charge. The music for the film was provided by an Akha hilltribe music group. 
I wrote, directed, and appeared in Lahu Funnyman alongside almost every Thai comedian I'm friends with. I was of course ecstatic about winning an award, but I was never fully happy with the result of this film, partially because I had to complete it on a budget, within a time frame, and all by myself. If there is significant interest I will put together a new Director's Cut which I feel would do the story more justice, and do "official" subtitles, which were not included in the film when screened in Thailand. It would increase the running time to about 15 minutes and include more cameos by other comedians. So, everyone please let me know what you think. Otherwise my time will be spent working on my current project, a fun travel show for Thailand and SEAsia which you can check out on my youtube channel.


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