DER Documentary

Candles for New Years


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by David Plath and Jacquetta Hill
color, 30 min, 1998




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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.

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