Nobel Nok Dah

'Nobel Nok Dah' offers an intimate view into the lives of three refugee women from Burma, whose migratory paths cross in Thailand and eventually meet when they resettle to central New York. Drawing upon methods of feminist oral history and ethno-fiction, the film traces glimmers of subjectivity that complicate any singular narrative of the refugee experience. As camera movements follow the textures of everyday life and work, a weave of sensorial fragments immerses audiences in women's narratives of self, place, and belonging.


Director’s Statement


'Nobel Nok Dah' is a film about three refugee women (Nobel, Nok, and Dah) directed by three women filmmakers. The three of us, Emily, Miasarah, and Mariangela met as filmmakers, but in our previous careers, we had long worked with refugees from Burma/Myanmar both in Thailand and in the U.S. As feminist filmmakers, we wanted to disrupt the idea that there was a single narrative of the refugee experience. With this film, we sought to center women’s narratives of self, place, and belonging. We started without the cameras, by conducting separate audio interviews with Nobel, Nok, and Dah.

Building on these interviews, which used techniques of feminist oral history, we continued with a collaborative process of story development. The three film stars later joined us for rough cut viewings and talk-back sessions to shape a story arc which highlights stories of both struggle and hope. You will notice that the visuals of the film are experimental in nature. By abandoning documentary realism for blur, bold colors, and movement, we hope to open a space for audiences to listen deeply (with your ears and hearts) to these women’s stories.


Discussion Guide & Multimedia Stories


The 'Nobel Nok Dah' Film Discussion Guide is a robust resource that features discussion questions, context on refugees, exercises, and multimedia sources to accompany the short film. 

Discussion Guide for the Classroom

Discussion Guide for Refugee Service Providers

Tips for Facilitators

Oral History Extension Projects

Multimedia Stories (upon purchase of educational film license)


This guide is made possible by  Action Grant from Humanities New York & partnership with Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program

Nok presenting at 2018 SEAP Workshop at Cornell University

Nok presenting at 2018 SEAP Workshop at Cornell University


2018 Screening at Cornell University's SEAP

2018 Screening at Cornell University's SEAP

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How to Use the Film


'Nobel Nok Dah' has been used by educators, refugee service providers, and community advocates, and others who wish to spark conversations about the refugee experience. The guide includes discussion questions on central film themes including: 

Forced migration and human rights

The refugee experience (camps and resettlement)


Cultural shift and identity

Storytelling & oral history  

Coping & resilience.

Still from the film of Nok

Still from the film of Nok

How to Order the Film


By purchasing an educational license of the film, you can support Ethnocine Collective’s continued production of films like 'Nobel Nok Dah'.

For educational purposes (colleges, universities), please ask your library to purchase the film.

For community groups, K-12 educators, and others, please contact us directly for sliding scale options.


Workshops and Q&A with Directors


The filmmakers have a combined decade of experience working with refugees in the United States and internationally, as well as extensive backgrounds as educators and facilitators. We are happy to work with educational institutions, refugee providers, and other community organizations to design custom workshops aimed at resettlement staff, case workers, educators, and refugee communities themselves to build a capacity for cross-cultural understanding.

By paying close attention to the characteristics and needs of learners—be they administrators and educators looking to increase empathy among parents in their districts, caseworkers seeking to bridge divides, young refugee women trying to rectify the different perception of gender roles and expectations between their country of origin and the U.S., or community college professors looking to integrate an increasing refugee student population—our workshops work towards a variety of learning objectives aimed to cultivate understanding of the refugee experience, with an emphasis on finding common ground.

Workshop engagements often include:

  • a conversation on the making of the film, especially the ethnographic, oral history and collaborative methods employed

  • film screening,

  • Facilitated discussion in small and large groups tailored to the audience and objectives

Emily presenting 2018 workshop at Cornell University

Emily presenting 2018 workshop at Cornell University

Mariangela & Emily co-facilitating 2018 workshop at Cornell University

Mariangela & Emily co-facilitating 2018 workshop at Cornell University



This was a ‘new’ experience of learning refugee stories for the anthropology students since we focused more on using our senses to listen and see and feel the stories, and I believe this kind of learning leaves a deep print on our beings.
— Tina Stavenhagen-Helgren, Chair of International Studies, Tompkins Cortland Community College
Nok, Nobel, & Dah answering questions at the 2015 Utica, NY Screening & Community Talk Back

Nok, Nobel, & Dah answering questions at the 2015 Utica, NY Screening & Community Talk Back

“Nobel Nok Dah prompted a vibrant classroom discussion on what allows people who are marginalized to be genuinely seen and heard. There are so few portrayals of refugees in the US that show them as creative, complex human beings. We contrasted what was evoked by Nobel Nok Dah with what came through in more standard portrayals of refugees. The film and discussion guide are excellent resources for educators who would like their students to develop a more nuanced and empathetic understanding of what it is to be a refugee resettled in the US.”

-- Zoe West, PhD, Oral Historian & Instructor, Human Rights & Oral History: Testimony, Memory, and Trauma, Columbia University

Nobel Nok Dah provided a beautiful, thought-provoking, sensorial experience for all of us in my undergraduate course in cultural anthropology. With its diversity of life stories, unique yet intertwined as part of the larger refugee experience and struggle for human rights, this film allowed for a critical and demanding cross-cultural encounter. The images and voices compelled students to use all their senses to engage ideas of cultural change, place and home, women’s roles and future dreams, bias and discrimination and the politics of marginalization and violence worldwide. The film and viewing experience was the opposite of comfortable world traveling. It did not tell the viewer what to think but instead invited nuance, complexity, not-knowing and non-closure. The students responded with thoughts and questions that implicated their own experiences in relation to others in the world. This film is a profound teaching and learning experience on so many levels!
— Sofia Viellas, Anthropology Professor, Cornell University
2015 Utica, NY Screening

2015 Utica, NY Screening

Emily teaching 2017 workshop at Echo Park Film Center for Action!

Emily teaching 2017 workshop at Echo Park Film Center for Action!