SQUATTERPUNK (Khavn Dela Cruz)


Call it whatever you want- a hybrid of visual narrative and documentary, or an extended punk rock music video. Khavn's SQUATTERPUNK, one of the precursors to his later feature MONDOMANILA, is an undeniable artistic experimentation. 

The electric guitar protrudes onto the screen, highlighting informal settlers' lust for life amidst a backdrop of decay and depravity. Khavn's camera follows youngsters as they play makeshift soccer, sniff rugby, and act all punk. One of the characters even sports a Travis Bickle haircut, and like what the other characters would feel, the audience anticipates the result when such character sits for that said haircut. This is one of the film's plus: it makes the audience a part of the immersion. 

If you're not into genres where dialogue is substituted with visuals, especially where tracking shots are overabundant, then this is not for you. The characters need not say anything. Khavn's camera speaks some unspeakable truths about urban poverty. 

At times, the film feels dragging. The music really uplifts that feeling.

Throughout the movie there are popular Filipino sayings, placed in title cards as means of guidance to the immediately preceding scenes. The first one at the beginning is a guide for the whole film.

SQUATTERPUNK's message is simple, and yet it does not lose Khavn's flair for direct but artful use of satire. In one particular scene, the youngsters altogether take a dump on a mountain of garabage. This could be representative of taking a dump on the "system", saying help from the government would be a good idea, but if not well fuck you then, we're gonna live our life anyway.  

RATING: 3/5

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