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Thai filmmaker switches to fiction to reveal migrant realities

Nontawat Numbenchapol's debut feature 'Doi Boy' explores illegal border crossings

Thai filmmaker Nontawat Numbenchapol: After making his name with a series of observational documentaries, he has branched out into narrative features with dark social realist film “Doi Boy.” (All photos courtesy of Nontawat Numbenchapol)

BANGKOK -- During a decade of exposing hidden Thai stories and lives in a spate of observational documentaries, filmmaker Nontawat Numbenchapol has always been keenly aware of his responsibility toward his human subjects. His latest body of work, however, finds him going to new lengths to honor that responsibility -- to ensure the anonymity of the migrant workers at its center, he has dropped the role of documentarian altogether.

"My life is elsewhere, but my protagonists live in this location," he said, referring to the ethical concerns that largely spurred his first foray into moviemaking. "And I worry about their future ... that my films are going to have repercussions."

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