London-based photographer and director Jess Kohl has always had an interest in marginal, outsider communities. Her films cover subjects from gay Jewish party promoters Buttmitzvah to people from deprived Stonebridge Estate.
Anarchy in the Philippines is an intimate journey into the heart of the small but powerful DIY punk movement in the Philippines today. Kohl discovered RJ and his friends through social media. 'They sent me phone videos and photos of their lives and I was inspired. They are true traveller punks, they spend their time hitchhiking, begging for food, screen printing bootleg band t-shirts in their backyards, and helping vulnerable members of their community. We spoke for about 3 months and I knew I had to go to the Philippines and tell their stories.' Kohl reminisces.
Far from being the only punk, DIY movement outside Western society, what set this group apart from others was a sense of urgency to tell their story. Philippines is currently facing a challenging time under dictatorship of president Rodrigo Duterte and young people are living with the constant threat of president's violent ‘War on Drugs’. Kohl further explains: 'Those who aren’t towing Duterte’s line are seen as worthless, and the ‘war’ continues to claim many innocent lives. For the characters in my film, going against the grain and having the integrity to live an alternative lifestyle puts them in very real danger. In Anarchy, I wanted to capture their determination to be free against the odds, and the lengths that they go to keep the punk scene thriving in a harsh environment.'