Documentary Videos Delving into Our Shared Human Condition
As the primary long-term initiative of Jeff’s Journalism, “The Moments’ Pause Project: Reminders of Our Natural Roots” is a research, multimedia, culture preservation, and social capital building initiative that — during a global era of increasing political tension and societal unrest — is tending to this world We all as a global community share.
While this grassroots initiative has many aspects, its root and ultimate goal is to collaboratively address conflict and environment related issues that are impacting Us worldwide.
One component of this Project involves documentary-style videos, exploring some of the societal impacts of economic “development” phenomena
The videos displayed below bring us on journeys into Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Taiwan. This quest includes imagery of Burmese refugees living on a rubbish dump located on the Thai-Burma, indigenous peoples living in Thailand’s mountainous areas, and some off-the-grid rarely seen areas of Cambodia and Myanmar, among others.
As societal contexts for being reminded of the socially binding commonalities that all of Us humans share, these works address aspects of everything from environment to human rights issues.
*All videos below (and more) are available at The Moment’s Pause Project YouTube channel.
(NEW) To Stride with Pride: A Human Rights Movement in Thailand
“To Stride with Pride: A Human Rights Movement in Thailand” informs about brave people who are diligently striving toward attaining civic equity and societal equality. This is in a country where social activism is predominantly taboo, and can be quite dangerous.
With a blending of seriousness and light-heartedness, this documentary brings you to the lively streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand. There, you stride with pride in the 2020 Chiang Mai Pride parade, with hundreds of others who are standing up for human rights.
Big-hearted folks from and supporting of the LGBTQI community, plus those from other marginalized societal groups such as sex workers, those who are disabled (other-abled), and indigenous peoples, conjoin in solidarity.
In this bi-lingual (subtitled) video, Thailand’s iconic LGBT and human rights activist, Sirisak “Ton” Chaited, movingly shares about some challenges this demographic community faces. Ton details what happened in 2009 when a mob of culturally traditional locals, who vehemently disapproved of LGBT people and their civil rights movement, blockaded, threatened, and forcefully stopped them from continuing with that event. …
We are also offered a society-unifying message to heed.
Indigenous Harp Singer: Development’s Societal Perils and a Moment’s Pause
“Indigenous Harp Singer: Development’s Societal Perils and A Moment’s Pause” takes you on an adventure to somewhere rarely seen by the public eye: into the rural mountains of northern Thailand and Kayah, Myanmar.
There, in the wake of ‘development’ and an encroaching modern world culture, the traditional cultures of indigenous peoples are literally vanishing as modernity is shifting centuries of learning and indigenous knowledge aside.
It starts with the road, for with the road comes the global market system — the city.
In this video, with road construction and capitalism looming, Myanmar’s Toni Oo, who is indigenous ethnic Kayaw, skillfully plays her “zither.” Having mastered this bamboo constructed traditional harp instrument, she performs two ancient ethnic Kayaw songs — about love and nature.
While Toni Oo is sharing her musical gift, other villagers walk us through their community. Together, we discover and observe culturally traditional activities such as rice processing, wood collecting, spiritual practices, all-natural jungle food preparation, music, and courtship dancing.
We are granted a glimpse into their lives.
With a blending of heavy and light-heartedness, this ‘documentary for dialogue’ addresses some of the nuts and bolts of ‘economic development,’ while leaving space for viewer interpretation. … This is a documentary for dialogue.
A Message from Indigenous Women in Forest Management
Climate change is a reality. In order to mitigate its adverse impacts, there is no doubt that we need to conserve our forests.
For some people, the forest is life — literally.
In this video, we meet the women and men of the Kouy indigenous peoples of Cambodia.
We discover more about what the forest means to them, and about how indigenous women have taken the lead to protect what forest remains.
When Can We Go Back? The Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Their Lands
It took over 20 years of hard work by Indigenous Peoples representatives to have a declaration affirming the collective rights of indigenous peoples to be adopted by the United Nations.
Here is a story of indigenous ethnic Karen peoples living in Thailand. Their village that has existed in the mountainous highlands of Thailand was stormed, raided, torched, and destroyed by military personnel. Villagers were moved to the lowlands, where they are struggling to figure out (and know) how to survive.
Why did this happen? Because although this village has existed there for over 100 years, it exists in what is now a national park.
This story illustrates why the UNDRIP declaration is needed and what can happens when people’s basic human rights are ignored.
Sacred Sound of Indigenous Deep-Meanings: The Traditional Lahu Flute
Jalae Jamuu, this video’s star-performer, resides in “Pumuen” village, a 58-household 300-person community of ethnic Black Lahu peoples. His quaint locale, comprised of bamboo constructed houses encompassed by villagers’ livelihood supporting cash crops (e.g., tea and fruit), was established in the 1970s. Around 1880 is when the earliest inhabitants of this highlands area immigrated from Myanmar to this location.
A cultural facet their ancestors brought with them, and still in-part practice, is folklore that they originate from the gourd. This is why the Lahu traditionally use the bamboo and gourd constructed flute (kaen namtao) as their cultural heart-center. This vitally important instrument is hence utilized as a mechanism for facilitating aspects of their socio-ecological functioning; this includes connecting with ancestral spirits and with each other on Earth. Largely due to ‘development’ impacts, Jalae is the only remaining local Lahu villager who can skilfully operate this sacred device.
“Sacred Sound of Indigenous-Deep Meanings” offers a meaningfully layered glimpse into this instrument’s nuanced sounds. This is while preserving some of this practice’s root indigenous-deep meaning … before it’s too late.
Thailand Buddhist Monk Ordination
This video reveals a rare glimpse into a Buddhist monk ordaining process in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
The multi-layered sacred ceremonial process involving both the individual’s closest family and the Temple hierarchy. It was most neat to observe how as their dress was gradually changed from white to orange their persona also transformed.
By the completion of this couple-hour ceremony, they went from standing as individuals to being equally melded into the Sangha.
Asanha Bucha (Buddhist Lent) Ceremony
Known as “dharma (truth) day,” this annual Buddhist ceremony — celebrated in Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, and in other countries with Theravada Buddhist populations — is about gratitude for Buddha’s teachings.
People offer donations to the temple, and listen to sermons. While holding candles and flowers representing a lit life-path, the temple (or stupa) is circled three times. This is about Buddhism’s ‘three gems:’ the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (community). At the end of the ceremony comes the monk’s teaching and blessing.
This is a time for coming together as a community, connected by a shared spiritual belief system. Monks’ three-month rainy season mediation retreat begins the next day.
COMING SOON — Last of His Kind
The ethnic indigenous Chorng people in Southwestern Cambodia’s Areng Valley have lived in the area for centuries.
The 1,200 or so post-Khmer Rouge villagers remaining there (off-the-grid) live naturally from the surrounding forest and have fairly intact cultural traditions.
This, however, is also under threat as the global market system is perforating their cultural social fabric.
This documentary will be about an old indigenous Chorng man who is the last who can play the traditional instrument — the flute, called “ploy” — that his peoples use to connect with the spirit realm, and with each other. He has one student, who will also be included in the film.
The wise elder reveals quite candidly about the importance and power of this traditional instrument. He also reveals his feeling-sentiments related to him being the last of his kind.
COMING SOON — Migrant Workers' Plight: One Day
People migrate every day between Myawaddy, Myanmar and Mae Sot, Thailand. They have their reasons. Some cross via the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge; others use the Moei River ferry boat.
This journey is for cultivating a livelihood. People do what they have to do. This trade hub area is also where migrants become entangled in labor exploitation and human rights abuses. Still, they carry on with resilience and grace. Who are they? What are their life stories? Where are they going … as they cross over? Even amidst their plight, they honorably carry on with resilience and grace.
This film reveals one sunrise to sunset day with Burmese migrant sugarcane workers located in this border region. Revealing video and well-translated interview conversations provide a small window into their life — their history, the exploitation they endure, their working conditions, and also about their motivations, hopes and dreams.
Here are the faces and names of the brave folks who for this film brought their voices forward for all of us to listen and learn. …
Dignity Amidst the Rubbish: Hour-by-Hour with a Burmese Migrant Community (preview)
Dignity Amidst the Rubbish: Hour-by-Hour With a Burmese Migrant Community in Thailand is a photo book that places holistic reflection upon the daily lives of a refugee community from Burma that is living on a rubbish dump located in Mae Sot, Thailand, near the Burma border.
Photographs, prose, and the translated voices of this community provide an hour-by-hour glimpse into the situations of these individuals and their families.
This work focuses not on the deplorable conditions in which they live, but is rather a reflection on this community’s cohesion amid an environment of poverty and strife.
This is part of The Dignity Amidst the Rubbish Project. The art and heart of this Project is that it’s rooted in collaboration for cultivating humanitarian support, addressing global issues, while also taking a moment to observe and reflect upon the beauty of life.
VITAL INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE (fishing in Kayah State, Myanmar)
We are all indigenous to Planet Earth.
Let’s go jungle-fishing in off-the-grid Myanmar.
In this 3-minute clip (one part of my documentary, “Indigenous Harp Singer: Development’s Societal Perils and A Moment’s Pause”), we go fishing with the ethnic indigenous Kayaw people in Kayah State, Myanmar.
Using indigenous knowledge passed along for generations, the men have built a sand and rock-constructed fish trap – “a home,” as the English speaking villager tells us – for unsuspecting river fish.
The fishies eventually become our fire-grilled lunch.!.
Wedding Drummer: Rhythm of Our Natural Roots
The ethnic indigenous Chorng people in Southwestern Cambodia’s Areng Valley have lived in that area for centuries.
The 1,200 or so post-Khmer Rouge villagers remaining there (off-the-grid) live naturally from the surrounding forest and have fairly intact cultural traditions.
This, however, is also under threat as the global market system, and its related modern global culture lifestyles, is perforating their cultural social fabric.
A looming hydroelectric dam project — one of additional “development” projects — is literally threatening their ways of life.
Here is some brief (gritty) in-field footage that I collected while at a Chorng wedding (January 2017). … In addition to the elders playing and singing, I while on-camera candidly reflect a bit upon what is happening in-terms of the overall picture.
A Moment's Pause: De of Development, the Human Condition, and the Road to Nowhere, or Somewhere?
This Project explores aspects of how economic development is impacting the essence of Humankind. This involves how changes in environment alter our relationships amongst ourselves and with our natural world.
Together, we will travel to locations rarely seen by the public eye, up to the high mountains of northern Thailand.
There, communities of indigenous peoples have for generations been living relatively traditional lives. Their unique cultures are vanishing, however, as they like those in the urban areas below them are becoming ever-more part of a modernizing trend.
Global market forces and government policies are in a sense forcing villagers to shove centuries of indigenous knowledge aside and adopt modernized, developed, lifestyles in order to survive.
A Moment's Pause with Nabu Sri
This is the partial ‘voice’ of Nabu Sri, an elderly ethnic Lahu woman who tells us of what life was like 40 years ago in her village located high in the mountains of northern Thailand.
She contrasts these sentiments with what it’s like now that State economic development phenomena have perforated the social fabric of her culture.
Will you join with us in observing and preserving our natural roots?
For with each older generation that the modern world is losing — their ‘traditional’ knowledge with them, amidst our supposed capitalist ‘development progress’ and a resulting homogenizing world culture — it is as though monumental segments of an ancient societal iceberg are sliding into the sea.
Nabu Sri passed away one year after she was interviewed for this Project.
Her ‘voice’ is one of 11 voices included in The Indigenous Voices Multimedia Project: A Moment’s Pause.
Wild (external) Chicken
Chi Suwichan is a prominent voice of the ethnic Karen people. This both for his powerful music and also for his many years of being at the forefront of indigenous peoples’ activism — fighting for their rights.
Here, Chi plays the Karen “tenaku” harp with mastery, while singing a traditional Karen song called, “Wild Chicken.”
This song (with English subtitles) is a metaphor for the societal effects of modern economic development processes (e.g. the road) infiltrating the core of ethnic Karen villages (i.e. the minds of villagers) — their culture, scratching away all that is pure in terms of cultural traditions and fully intact community structure.
Setting Nature's Table (production in-process)
This light-hearted video takes you into a rarely seen world: the wood fire-fueled kitchen of indigenous peoples living in rural Kayah State, Myanmar.
We watch and listen as they from scratch skillfully make an early-morning meal — comprised near entirely of food that was plucked from nearby forests.
Community based tourism training video (sampling, in-process) — Kayah, Myanmar
As part of a United Nations (UN) International Trade Center (ITC) community based (inclusive) tourism project in Kayah, Myanmar, my tasks during this project (March 2017) involved media documentation as well helping the team create Program training videos. …
Community based tourism (CBT) essentially involves tourists spending time in rural ethnic indigenous villages — learning about and experiencing the culture, such as their food, arts and crafts, music, overall lifestyle, etc.
CBT is also a way for villagers to use their cultural capital to earn financial income while also padding the effects of State-led economic development related phenomena.
This video is a sampling of what the finished training video will be.
Taiwan Indigenous Women Cultural Handcrafts
An indigenous women’s group gathered for a beading workshop near Miaoli, Taiwan. …
What you see here isn’t just about making beadwork handicrafts.
This is indigenous knowledge, sewn into millennia of cultural history and related traditions; it has traditionally been a rite of passage into cultural adulthood.
This beading activity is also a time for the women to take a break, while connecting and sharing with each other about their lives.
DEVELOPMENT, OUR INTRINSIC NATURE, AND THE HUMAN CONDITION
Land, labor, and capital are the three components necessary to make the industrial machine of capitalism work.
In this video, we discuss briefly and also deeply about this — providing a solid foundation understanding of just what is capitalist ‘development.’
This relates to aspects of how economic development is impacting the essence of Humankind. … This involves how changes in environment alter our relationships amongst ourselves and with our natural world.
We consider how this may be relevant Us all.
“With materialism you start getting competition, social status, different things like this. Therefore, your motives start to change with the things that you are doing.
Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all subject to the natural world. And development, through technology, in a sense insulates and isolates us from the reality that we are all subject to the natural world.
And these (rural ‘traditional’ cultures) we can still look we can still observe we can still see people whom I believe represent the baseline that we all human beings share.”
The Moments' Pause Project: Reminders of Our Natural Roots
“The Moments’ Pause Project: Reminders of Our Natural Roots” is a research, multimedia, culture preservation, and social capital building initiative that — during a global era of increasing political tension and societal unrest — is tending to this world We all as a global community share.
This Project is about taking a moment’s pause to observe and to become reminded of the socially binding commonalities that all humans share. … These are our core needs to be loved and accepted, to be accepting and loving, as well as our necessity for having a nourishing natural environment that includes familial and community connections.
To better understand this overall situation, I have as the foundation of this Project used the seamlessly paired integration of documentary-style photography, prose, and in-depth interviews.
Pulling from my book, Indigenous Voices: Glimpses into the Margins of Modern Development, included in this Project are the “voices” of villagers 14-84 years old, from three different ethnicities in northern Thailand, and from villages existing at different points on a development continuum.
They open up the doors of their homes and help us understand.
Materialism, the Homogenization Blob, Hope, and the Project
Indigenous Voices: Glimpses into the Margins of Modern Development explores aspects of how economic development is impacting the essence of Humankind.
This involves how changes in environment alter our relationships amongst ourselves and with our natural world.
This video touches briefly on this. We discuss the development continuum and how the world is turning into a homogenizing world culture, among other aspects.
For the Love of Yaki (documentary teaser)
Lawa Piheg, of the indigenous Atayal ethnic group in Taiwan, was born August 17, 1923. … Lawa is the last of her tribe with facial tattoos that in the afterlife will appease a spiritual gatekeeper and permit her to cross the ‘rainbow bridge’ leading toward her ancestors.
Nowadays, kinship and strangers from both near and afar visit Lawa. Most everyone calls her “Yaki.” This word in the Atayal language respectfully means ‘elder’ — for Lawa: ‘grandma.’
People journey up into the mountains to experience Yaki Lawa’s cackling laughter and uplifting presence. They also want to reverently observe Yaki’s intriguing facial markings that represent millennia of her Group’s (and Taiwan’s) dynamic and at-times tumultuous history.
Contemplating the bigger picture, this film is also about ‘development’ and global culture change. … Moreover, what is this alluring attraction Yaki harnesses that draws so many people to her? What does this love for Yaki potentially symbolize, or even personify, regarding our connection with culture, community, the passing of time, and some inherent meanings for Us all?
Yaki Lawa Receives Physical Therapy
On May 11, 2018, as a result of this “For the Love of Yaki” documentary (and overall) Project, “Yaki” Lawa experienced some much needed physical therapy, and received a new wheelchair. …
This treatment wasn’t so comfortable for her all of the time. However, Lawa was happily participating. This is while she actively engaged Ken the caring and skilled therapist from Karma medical (康揚輔具), the company that has donated this therapy (and the premium quality wheelchair). Yaki’s family member also received some healthcare training.
Good things are happening. …
A Journey of Discovery (six-part music video)
Cal and Bin, bored with the mundane of life, unite in a dynamic adventure of mystery, adventure, love, and self-discovery.
This 20-minute music video (with acting) is a six-part compilation that creates one dynamic storyline.
My primary tasks on this small production team included co-directing, storyline production, camera operation, and editing.