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The Modern Mambabatok: Lane Wilcken and Filipino Tattooing in the Diaspora

by Kayla Sotomil

30 min, United States, English

The Modern Mambabatok follows the story of Lane Wilcken as he travels the United States practicing traditional Filipino hand-tap tattooing. The film showcases Wilcken’s engagement with the Filipino diasporic community as an educator of indigenous Philippine culture and as a mambabatok, traditional tattoo practitioner. Through Wilcken’s personal and professional journeys, audiences gain insight into the history of ancient Filipino hand-tap tattooing, its near extinction, and its recent revival and practice in the Filipino diaspora. The Modern Mambabatok chronicles this resurgence of traditional hand-tap tattooing and how batoks, hand-tap tattoos, are used to express Filipino and Filipino American identity today.

Kayla Sotomil is an ethnographic filmmaker and independent scholar. She received an MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Southern California, an MA in Food Studies from New York University, the Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute, and a BA in Linguistic Anthropology from Brandeis University. Her work has been screened at the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival, the Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival, the SCA/SVA Distribute Film Festival, the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, the UnKonference Short Film Festival, and on Eugene Metro Channel 21. Her research interests include: ancestral ritual, indigenous healing, diasporic communities, foodways, identity performance, and intangible cultural heritage in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. A majority of her work thus far has focused on the Philippines and the Filipino diaspora. Prior to filmmaking, Kayla worked in food education and cooked professionally in New York City. She now divides her time between Los Angeles and Chicago.


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