Noise and Resistance captures a subculture that might seem forgotten (or outdated to some), but which, as the documentary purports, is still alive and kicking, screaming its name through the economic, gender or anti-fascist battles of rebels from Petersburg to Barcelona. Unsurprisingly, the movie was born here in Berlin, a city where the DIY/anarchist/punk ethos thrives, prouder and louder than in any other capital. We talked to Julia Ostertag, who co-directed the film with Francesca Araiza Andrade. Noise and Resistance opens on June 11 at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg in the presence of its directors and accompanied by a solidarity-show for ABC Moskau at Køpi.
Why did you make this movie?
To put things simply, one of the statements in our film is that punk should be more than music. There have been a lot of documentaries about punk lately, that I think neglect the content of what it means to be punk and be DIY. It’s not history, it’s very much alive. We can still change things. To be different and live differently and not give a shit about society and living life like the mainstream.
Your film more about punk as a movement than as music.
Exactly. And we wanted to show people who would otherwise never be in front of a camera, but have something to say. To give them a chance to express themselves and speak their minds. I think it was also fun, the parts in Russia with this illegal concert in an abandoned building, where there never was a camera before – at least not from the West.
Can you talk a bit about the Russian segment of the film?
This was mainly Francesca’s part. The Russian part is very different in the way that you can tell that the situation there is much more drastic for them than say in Sweden, Germany or even Spain. It’s about being physically threatened, and not just by the neo-Nazis. As one of our protagonists puts it, “It doesn’t mean they can arrest you on the streets, it means that they can actually kill you and it’s not only punks or anti-fascists, it also goes for queer people or non-white people.” And there have been murders. This band that talks to us is now listed as extremists just for making the sort of music they make and trying to grow an anti-fascist movement.
How did you choose your protagonists?
We really wanted to show a range of different approaches to DIY, so there’s no way to say “this is it”. What we want to achieve with this film is show insights, different options and an alternative viewpoint or approach towards this world where anti-capitalism rules. So it was about hunting and collecting. There were these ideas about Spain, Catalonia – a lot about the squatting movement there with its history of anarchy. For me personally, it was also very important to have this feminist/queer activism in punk, because it gets often neglected. Punk was also about gender rebellion, this idea that there are no girls or boys, but “punks”. And there was the historical perspective we really wanted to show with Penny Rimbaud from Crass.
How much has punk changed since the days of Crass?
What has definitely changed is the access to an international network via the internet. Now people can talk better, organize tours or just get to know each other, and build up networks that are not bound to one specific area or country – like they used to be. There’s been a lot of criticism of the new global media, especially from the political scene and there was a lot of anti-MySpace, but now that’s out. Also, the new technology gives a better access to music and DIY. For example, a band can master their whole album in their living room. We could basically edit this film in our apartment, on a laptop with an external hard drive!
What do you think punk means in today’s world?
Maybe the fitting emotion is anger. Anger is, for some people, negative but positive anger keeps you from falling into depression and keeps you alive and active. I think that’s it, and that’s also the difference from the hippie attitude that’s all “Hey, can’t we all just be friends?” Punks are like: “No, we are different, and this is our way, and this is what we want to do, and we are angry, because there are so many things on the outside that we don’t agree with.”
What does punk mean to you?
To me personally, punk means a lot, and always will. It’s not something historical or a youth movement you will grow out of and say “skip that shit”. It’s something that you can still keep, and if you meet the protagonists of the film, you can tell that they’re totally into that idea and they stick to it. The way they’re edgy and the way they rant about society. You can tell that they’re still following what’s going on, they were totally up-to-date. Maybe they don’t always listen to punk music, but as I said, punk is more than music.