Kayan: Beyond the rings

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Story

The Kayan people of Northern Thailand's so called 'long-neck' villages want the world to see the truth behind negative media headlines.

Years ago the Kayan people fled Burma and headed to Thailand due to civil war, they lived in refugee camps until the Thai government settled many of them in their own self-styled Kayan villages around Northern Thailand.

The Kayan people had always been the object of fascination for travelers as the women are known to wear brass neck rings which give the appearance of an elongated neck.

Over the following years Huay Pu Keng attracted many tourists primarily for this reason and the the village economy began to thrive, this in turn helped the refugees to live a more comfortable life as they made a good living hosting and selling their crafts to visitors from all over the world.

However, the Kayan people still faced some problems, they were unable to get Thai citizenship which could effect their education and ability to travel free.

The media began publishing inflammatory articles claiming that Huay Pu Keng was nothing but a human zoo and insinuating that the Kayan people were forced to live there for the sake of tourism.

This led to many tourists boycotting the villages and encouraging others not to visit, without understanding the true extent of the issue or ever speaking to Kayan people.

Consequently, the Kayan people's main source of income drastically decreased, leaving these refugees in a worse situation.

In this 'ethical boycott' nobody wins.

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Filming

I shot this film whilst living in Pai, Thailand for 3 months between February and April 2017. We headed to Huey Pu Keng three times over the months to do the interview and get all the shots I needed. It was a great experience staying over the village and learning about the Kayan culture and their true feelings towards people coming to visit them.

CREDITS

KAYAN: BEYOND THE RINGS (2018) 
a Marko Randelovic film

 / Matador Originals

Website: markorandelovic.com/
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www.matadornetwork.com

Aerial Footage: Tom Sweetman & Chris Dian

Music: Kody Ryan (soundcloud.com/kody21)

Special Thanks: Nutchaporn Thongpun 
& Rimu Trakulsiripan