The Importance of Being Mlabri

A moving documentary about a small community in Thailand fighting to save their unique language and culture.

The Importance of Being Mlabri

The Importance of Being Mlabri

There are only 320 Mlabri people left on this planet. They came out of the jungle in Northern Thailand on the border to Laos one genera-tion ago. The Mlabri people used to be hunters and gathers. Today they scrape out a meagre exis-tence at the bottom of society working as day-labourers for the Hmong farmers, and living in shacks on the outskirts of larger Hmong villages.

The Mlabri people are currently going through a transformation process, which has taken many other people thousands of years. Now the young people are faced with the choice of staying with their families in the village or adapting to the Thai society. How do they experience the meeting between their own culture and the local, regional and national majority cultures? In this film young Mlabri tell about their past, present and future as they see it; all expressed in their unique and expressive Mlabri language.

The film takes place in a corner of Northeast Thailand but it could in fact take place in any of those 3000 communities in the world in which languages and cultures are about to vanish in the vortex of regional and national majority cul-tures. All first world people, like the Mlabris, depend on the outside world for recognition of their rights and their culture. They need support from their local authori-ties as well as from their global neighbours – us.

Director Janus Billeskov Jansen
Producer & co-director Signe Byrge Sørensen
Produced by Final Cut Productions
Duration 58 min.
Year of Production 2007
Original Title Kunsten at være MLABRI
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