The largest in the world, Indonesia’s Muslim punk community is fascinating subject matter for Jimmy Hendrickx’s bold ‘A Punk Daydream’.
The documentary sheds light upon two tribes – spiky punk misfit Eka and his friends, and the ancient Dayak people – linked by their taboo tattooed skin and stifling social marginalisation in a conservative society.
The Dayak tribe’s way of life is threatened by the same march of modernity that spawned their mohawked counterparts, a commonality adeptly highlighted by the film.
From the outset, music is Hendrickx’s most evocative tool; punk scuzz blares over shots of the serene Indonesian countryside, and warehouse gigs are imbued with the same spirituality as Dayak rituals.
While the stark animosity toward punks, a hangover from the militaristic Suharto regime, is powerfully communicated, the Dayak at times act as a foil, and the film would benefit from delving deeper into their community. That said, its most thoughtful moments lie in subtle details – microcosms of Indonesian society peppered throughout vibrant street life sequences. In city smog, chickens are hastily slaughtered by the roadside, framed with nauseating bluntness. Later, the Dayak tribe’s ritual killing radiates respect; the values of brutalised urbanity have crept into the smallest of acts.
From anarchic hairstyles to hand-tapped tattoos, Hendrickx foregrounds the determinedly DIY nature of the punk community, an affront to the movement’s western commercialisation. Though not especially cinematographically impressive, intriguing visual contrasts carry the film. Scrappy form aside – as Eka’s red Doc Martens glisten in the South Asian sun, ‘A Punk Daydream’ captures the rebellious spirit of his people.
A Punk Daydream received nominations from the Warsaw International Film Festival and the St Petersburg Message to Man Film Festival for Best Full-Length Documentary Film.
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