Dir: Maui Druez & Preben Verledens · 2018 · 83 (m) | In Thai/Burmese/ Pwo Karen with English/Dutch/French subtitles
I am Golden Karen, the debut feature documentary of Belgian film makers Maui Druez & Preben Verledens is now available on VOD. The film premiered at the MOOOV Film Festival in 2018 and was later screened at several festivals, including the London Migration Film Festival and Ethnocineca in Vienna.
I am Golden Karen tells the story of Thaawa as he negotiates his identity from being a young migrant arriving in Bangkok to eventually becoming a father. He questions his responsibilities towards the family and his desire to both settle in Thailand and return to Karen State.
Although he and most of his friends have lived most of their lives in Thailand, they remain closely attached to Karen culture; wearing the traditional dress on special occasions and communicating in Pwo Karen. But they also produce hip hop music in Karen, uploading songs on youtube on a regular basis. They use digital media as a way to produce, preserve and transfer their cultural heritage, providing a space for identification for young Karen migrants all over the world.
For Thaawa, the protagonist of ‘I am Golden Karen’, life as a migrant worker in Bangkok is temporal; a transitory waiting period or suspension of ‘real’ life. Even though most of his days are fast-paced, working in a factory from morning till evening, Thaawa’s experience of time is quite the opposite as he and his family are continuously waiting for an opportunity to return to rural Karen State.
This coming together of two seemingly paradoxical lifeworlds, across rural and urban spaces, makes for an interesting time-space dialectical tension.