Utilising a wistfully grungy soundtrack to suit a visual style straight from the Nirvana videography, Khavn paints an ambiguous portrait of a group of fun-loving pubescent scamps (‘Squatterpunks’) living in an impoverished slum. There is no chronology to speak of, more a series of giddy, licentious vignettes, presenting these kids’ lives as endless bouts of hedonism. Khavn wisely avoids imbuing the feature with guilt-tripping facts and figures, instead lionising his subjects as if they were MTV’s latest artists du jour. The only subtitles provide helpful translations for graffiti and T-shirt slogans which say more than perhaps personal accounts could. On the other hand, it does sometimes feel like Khavn is stifling these children, their voices only heard at moments when the music dies down. Sure, they might exemplify the more venerable facets of the punk movement, but it is a comparison that one should work out independently, rather than being spoon-fed it.
There is a disturbingly hypnotic sequence repeated through the film where three kids sat in discarded tyres sniff heavily from bags of glue, but it is hard to infer exactly what was meant to be communicated. For the most part, the camera frolics around as if part of the clique, neither judging nor advocating their behaviour, so when we take a step back to witness their drug abuse like shocked parents, its profundity is uprooted by the happy sequence following it. A fascinating entry to the documentary genre, but one whose message is obscured by the aesthetic it employs.