East End Film Festival Highlights: Punk Voyage – Review

From This is Spinal Tap to Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars, there have been many prominent band documentaries made over the years.. Yet it is safe to say that there has not been one quite like this before. Punk Voyage follows the last few years of Finnish Punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat. The band, which has members all with mental disabilities, gained recognition in their home country, before touring internationally. Despite often gaining attention due to the disabilities of its members, the film is a brilliant demonstration of the typical tensions, creative differences, and experiences of a musical groups dynamics.

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Following the band a few years into their musical career. Lead vocalist and writer Kari is no longer happy and aims to quit the band. When the opportunity to represent Finland in The Eurovision Song Contest comes up, will Kari change his mind? Will their new challenge bring the band back together, or drive them further apart?

The film is in fact a sequel to the acclaimed documentary The Punk Syndrome. In the original, we watched as the four men join together, through love of music, to form the band. Both film makers Jukka Karkkainen and Jani-Petteri Passi returned to follow the band as they continued their journey on the road.

Punk Voyage is typical enough in its subjects issues. We join the band as tensions have begun to arise. Creative differences and personal issues have driven the band apart, making the members question if they should continue. With their profile on the rise the opportunity to represent Finland at Eurovision is a big opportunity. As the competition gets ever closer, the audience is left to wonders if the band will last that long.

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What really stands out about the film, and indeed drives it, is the opposing personalities of the band; temperamental Kari, reserved Pertti, peace keeper Sami and sweet, naive Toni. The film follows as each members experiences new things such as love rivals, moving away from home and losing friends. All are shown as the band progresses towards the Contest.

The film also gives audiences a behind the scenes view of the worlds campest (and strangest) musical event. Surrounded by other bands and with the cameras always rolling, the film covers a large event in an intimate way.

The style of the film is simple fly on the wall. The camera observes it subjects but never questions or intervenes. We watch the highs and lows of band life and the audience is drawn into the bands most intense moments. This story is small but handled with care and consideration.

This may not be as intriguing for those with no knowledge of the band. But this effective observer documentary normalises the experiences of disability and follows an interesting act.

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