The COVID-19 outbreak has imposed restrictions in movement. As part of an ongoing initiative, photographers of Magnum Photo are sharing information and new work made in these strange and difficult times.
Francis Wilmer is a British documentary producer, writer and photographer. His work spans spans multiple disciplines focusing on identity, class, spiritualism and struggles for self determination.
He grew up in London, directing his first funded documentary ‘The Mean World Syndrome’ aged 18 in Ireland. He then dropped out of education, leaving London for Northern Thailand. Where without formal education, he has worked from the bottom up in various roles in documentary journalism and news production.
His documentary work on the Ruesee (forest sages) ‘The Lost Wizards of Thailand’ 2016 drew national attention in Thailand as the first contact the Ruesee had ever had with contemporary media. More recently he has been working on a documentary project on the Maniq peoples in the remote deep south of Thailand. The Maniq are the last true hunter gatherer group in mainland Eurasia, who similarly have never been featured in professional media.
This is a running theme throughout his work as he looks to go beyond unreported stories, to peoples and places that have literally never been covered, through in-depth research and extensive time spent canvasing and forming intimate connections with local people.
It was this drive that drew him to Myanmar, where in 2014 he was part of a small team that worked to established Sakse Agency Collective, in rebel army territory in Kachin State, Myanmar. An agency built to serve as a media springboard of reportage in what is a historically overlooked conflict region.
He feels that it is through this remoteness, this lack of reportage, that a true unclouded story can be found and shared. In 2015 he formed the loose documentary collective PageSix News to further this concept.
His work has been featured across Southeast Asia as well as in London, Berlin, Delhi and Barcelona. The documentary ‘Maniq – Hamiq (Us & Them)’ is currently in production and he is currently in talks on publication of his book In The Hills, a collection of stories from Upland Southeast Asia.
The Lost Wizards of Thailand is a documentary film produced by Francis Wilmer, Harry Virtanen and Chonlada Lynn Bennett.
Lisu people straddle the hills around the Golden Triangle, known for having spent decades growing opium and a tradition of worshiping ancient spirits, today they struggle to maintain land to live on.
A concept documentary project focused deep in the hills. A brief encapsulation of the incorporeal nature of Northern Thailand.
Sakse Collective is a agency/collective of like minded documentary photographers, cinematographers and reporters focused on Kachin State & Northern Burma. [saksecollective.com]
Francis Wilmer, Harry Virtanen, John Freeco