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Thailand Premiere Screening of “Capital of Mae La” and Discussion with the Producers Belle Phromchanya and Jiraporn Laocharoenwong

18 May, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

The short ethnographic documentary that will be premiered at SEA Junction on 18 May at 5PM tells the story of Mae La, a refugee settlement on the Thailand-Myanmar border, through personal conversations with its inhabitants. Mae La has been a home for over 40,000 refugees for more than 30 years. Lives supposedly ‘in-between’ have become permanent while the camp has acquired features of a city: dynamic, vibrant, with more facilities and more mobility for refugees than one would expect. This project is a semi-longitudinal work over a 4-year timespan, produced in an artistic and ethnographic context. It started with personal curiosity and later developed into a tribute to the fascinating individuals of Mae La who shared their stories with the makers. The short film presents a personal reflection on the lives of refugees in long-term camps, for whom the camp has become their home and raises questions about issues of citizenship, statelessness, nationality and permanent residency.

Produced by Belle Phromchanya (designer/filmmaker) and Jiraporn Laocharoenwong (anthropologist), the documentary has recently been screened at cultural center Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam in April, 2019. At the Thailand Premiere at SEA Junction after the screening, there will be an informal Q & A discussion with both makers and Matcha Phorn-in, a human and gender rights activist who works on issues of statelessness with refugees and other marginalized communities.

This event is part of one of our core thematic series “Displaced and Uprooted in Southeast Asia” in collaboration with TIFA Foundation. The series aims to give visibility to the fate of displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees in the region and stimulate public discussion on inclusive policy and intervention responses to forced movements of people.

About the presenters

Belle Phromchanya was born in Thailand and relocated to Amsterdam in 2011. After graduating from the MA Design at the Sandberg instituut, she began her career as an independent designer and filmmaker under the moniker: Non Native Native (www.nonnativenative.com). In recent years she has produced a series of artistic investigations on the subject of cultural identity and contemporary migration. Her works are made up of visual research, documentary film, as well as multimedia installations, displaying personal explorations of political and social realities.

Jiraporn Laocharoenwong is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. She obtained Master of Science in Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought), London School of Economics (LSE), and Master of Arts in Development Studies, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University. Currently, she is working on her PhD. project at Universiteit van Amsterdam, entitled ‘Re-imagining refugee camp: Time and Space formation along the Thailand-Burma borderland’.

Matcha Phorn-in is the Executive Director of Sangsan Anakot Yaowachon, a civil society organization working with young people from marginalized communities, many of whom are indigenous, in disaster-prone Thai villages at the border with Myanmar. Phorn-in is from an ethnic minority and identifies as a lesbian feminist human-rights defender. 


Capital of Mae La

Directed by Belle Phromchanya
Based on ethnographic work of
Jiraporn Laocharoenwong

Edit by Twan da Silva
Music by Christoph Scherbaum
Visual Design by S†ëfan Schäfer

Project Supported by
Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (AFK)
Spa Manda Haarlem
Donors of Voordekunst Crowdfunding Campaign


Photo: Courtesy of Belle Phromchanya

The event is free, but donations are most welcome to enable SEA Junction to continue its activities and keep events accessible to the public.

For information/reservation for our events please email southeastasiajunction@gmail.com or phone/wa: +66970024140 


SEA Junction, OUR Venue to Connect on Southeast Asia (see https://seajunction.org) SEA Junction aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions –from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium) SEA junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see seajunction.org and join the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693055870976440/

TIFA Foundation

A grant making institutions working for human rights and democracy in Indonesia and supporting civil society to work in key fields like access to information, community and independent media, legal aid, anti-corruption, and minority rights. In recognition of the importance of placing Indonesia within the broader regional context, since 2016 Tifa Foundation has started the Regional Hub program cooperating with the New Mandala and now with SEA Junction. For more information see http://www.tifafoundation.org/en/ (in Indonesian).


18 May, 2019
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Event Category:


SEA Junction, Room 408, BACC
939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330 Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand
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