'Anarchy in The Philippines' Shows a Surviving Punk Rock Scene in Manila and Tarlac
International coverage on President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has been consistent and relentless. There have even been quite a few documentaries about the situation here in the Philippines, including one that just bagged a Pulitzer.
But none have explored the drug war's effects on a cultural level the way Anarchy in The Philippines does. British filmmaker Jess Kohl, through Dazed and Confused Magazine, just released a film that zooms into hardcore punk rock culture in Metro Manila and Tarlac—which is a thing, apparently. They have the spiked mohawks and the black leather and everything.
Specifically, Kohl tackles the subculture and how its survives amid Duterte's drug war. After all, these punks aren't Forbes Park kids who have Ramones vinyls and The Runaways on Blu-Ray. They're real DIY punks who live in the fringes. Once, they faced only the stigma and disapproval of mainstream society. Now, that disapproval is a very real threat to them, as the possibility of being accused of being a drug addict looms overhead constantly. Check it out:
In her interview with DAZED, Kohl says that she found the subjects of her documentary on social media, and then became more and more interested in telling their story. "My interest in the Philippines was sparked by the characters in my film—I'm interested in youth culture, subcultures, those on the fringes of society. I was aware of the crazy situation with the war on drugs in the Philippines, and I wanted to make a film that explored this through the microcosm of a marginalized subculture."
Kohl also reveals that this is just a shorter cut of a full-length documentary that she intends to release again later this year.