'A film always has an end, while reality continues': a hybrid Internet - radio - documentary film project

Virtual Borders (1999-2003, 91 min)

The story follows village headman Abaw Buseu on his journey from Thailand to a gathering of the Akha-Hani people in China. He is accompanied by an Akha radio presenter and the film team. Using the Internet, they transmit discussions from the gathering back to a radio station in Thailand for broadcast to remote mountain villages.

Three million Akha and Hani people live across the borderlands of five nations: China, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Thailand, and Burma (Myanmar). They identify as one people (Hani-Akha) through a common ‘tribal’ history, rather than the modern world history that created the nation states they live in. Theirs is an oral culture; traditional knowledge is passed on through the generations by recitation from memory.

A pioneering hybrid Internet – radio – documentary film project filmed in the late 90ies, this is also the first feature documentary produced in Akha language.

Available online on vimeo and to buy from London Art Words []

Further writing (hybrid concept, making of, geo-cultural context etc): Ambient Information Systems ed Luksch/Patel p72-91


Film director: Manu Luksch
Executive producer: Dara Khera, Paul Bucknor
Featuring: Abaw Buseu, Asseu Somsri Dzuebaw Jupoh, Apho Ratanawichaikul Tarik Thami
Offline editor: Manu Luksch, Anja Kirschner
Online editor: Mariko Montpetit
Graphic Animation: Pierre Valla
Camera operator: Manu Luksch
Research adviser: Dr. Leo Alting von Geusau, Aju Jupoh
Sound design: Mukul
Virtual Borders theme track: TJ Rehmi
Additional music: Aju Jupoh
 Akha ->English: Aju Jupoh
Kantonese->English: Zhen Jiang, Fu Yongshou
Thai ->English: Piche Peeyalo
English proof-reading: Mukul, Jessica Goyder, Simian Khera
supported by:
.kunst BKA, silverserver

read more


Ambient Information Systems. ed. Luksch/Patel. Chapter 2: A film has an end while reality continues. Texts by Manu Luksch, Keiko Sei, Online as pdf

Database Ontology. Masterthesis by Alexander Baratsits 2001. includes interview about Virtual Borders in English, otherwise in German language. complete pdf document for download:

If the Akha can speak then why can’t they be heard?
Dissertation/BA by Jessica Goyder. Westminster University 2001.
The use and impact of the media by the Akha, a tribal minority in South East Asia.

Mirella van Markus: Online Documentary: VIRTUAL BORDERS. PHD 07. 2001

Leven in de brouwerij, in: De Groene Amsterdammer van 25. 11. 2000

Observations about the TAKEOVER: Disturbing slowness in speedy times. in: ars electronica e-zine. 2001. Andreas Hirsch

City Events, in City Life, Chiang Mai, vol13 no 02 01 2004

Großer “Diagonale”-Preis. in: DerStandard 06. 03. 2004 (by APA)

Manu Luksch. Virtual Borders or Digital Divide? IN: net.congestion 2000.

Our Man In London. CD album by Aju Jupoh and Mukul (in progress). Contemporary interpretations of traditional Akha songs.

Manu Luksch; Die visuelle Symbolik der Akha
master thesis [in German language]. Akademie der bildenden Kuenste Wien 1997

Manu Luksch; Laos und die Angst vor dem Cyberspace. in: Telepolis Magazine 1997

Dzahl Tav Zaq Saq: Music video for Akha children. song by Aju Jupoh. video by Manu Luksch. premiered at First People’s Festival, Montreal, June 99



As part of the VIRTUAL BORDERS project, an internet link between the TICHAC in China and the Akha Language Radio Station in Thailand was set up. Mrs. Asseu was recording interviews and reports, which were encoded to realaudio and transfered via ftp to Chiang Mai. There, Mrs. Apho downloaded them with the help of VB team member Tarik, and integrated the reports on the same day in the daily Akha language radio programme.

Radio Programmes
Aq kaq dawq paw neh jangr dov taq-euq. Dawq gaq lar-eu GAR KAWV LOVQ-EHR. Iq terq nevq TICHAC hawr-eu lavq bui aq kaq, Taiq meuq-eu aq kaq dawq, bawq keuv sar dawq xawq zar-angr covq cavq-awr mr dov-euq. Aq piq Ar seuv dawq kawq lehq hmq-awr dawq cavq bivq-euq, ftp-angr neh dawq cavq xawq-awr, Aq nyir Ar poq yawq nang nav luvq Cevr mavq meuq-angr jawr-awr tiq kawv lovq-ehr bawq keuv sar dawq xawq zar-angr bi dov-eu meh.



The Third International Conference on Hani/Akha Culture (TICHAC)
was held from December 29, 1999 to January 5, 2000 in Jinghong City of Xishuangbanna Yunnan , PDR of China.

This conference was undertaken by the Peoples Government of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan , China.

The Conference is co-organized by Mr.Cha Ke,Vice Governor of the People’s Government of Xishuangbanna Prefecture and Mr.A Hai of the Ethnic Research Institute of the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.

The objectives of the Conference are:

To promote and re-enforce the splendid traditional Hani/Yaniza Culture.

To promote research and investigation of Hani/Yaniza Culture.

To strengthen de academic exchange between researchers of different countries.

We are happy to invite and count on the presence of representatives and researchers from 14 countries to attend this meeting. They include ,besides China, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Vietnam, besides Japan, Australia , New Zealand, the United states of America, and European Countries such as England, The Netherlands, France , Germany and Sweden.

During the Conference Work Groups will be set up and these groups will also have communication and investigation trips into Akha villages in the region.

The Third International Conference on Hani/Akha Culture .

(TICHAC) December 29,1999- January 5,2000.

Proposed Topics and Subject Areas:

1. Hani/Akha traditional eco-environment protection and sustainable development.

2. Hani/Akha traditional education and the impact of formal education on the nationality’s quality.

3. Hani/Akha history and culture (including also :genealogy, medical knowledge ,handicraft and dress, food-habits ,music and dance, funeral and other ceremonies, philosophy ).

4. Hani/Akha women and children: their empowerment and education.

5. The impact of international exchange, information and tourism on Hani/Akha economics, culture , education and development.

6. The impact of neighbouring ethnic cultures on Hani/Akha culture and its development.

7. Comparative research about Hani/Akha language/dialects, traditional oral literature/texts and literacy in the Lancang/Mekhong quadrangle subregions .

The Third International Conference on Hani/Akha Culture ‘s (TICHAC) Leading Group/Organizing Committee of Xishuangbanna, China

TICHAC Conference Office:
Address: No. 6 Jinghong ,East Road Yunnan China
Ethnic Research Institute of Xishuangbanna
Autonomous Perfecture.Post Code:666100
Liaison Persons: A Hai or Fu Gui-ying