Never heard of Punks For West Papua? No sweat, we'll clue you in. PFWP is an Australia-wide movement organised by Jody Bartolo and his band Diggers with Attitude. Released earlier this year, the movement's documentary follows the Australian punk scene's fight for people in West Papua, who've experienced genocide at the hands of the Indonesian government since the 1960s. "Punks are used to raising their voice against the government, so this is a natural cause for them," says the doco's Australian director Ash Brennan.
The documentary uncovers some shocking truths, including the seemingly deliberate blind eye-turning by the US, UK and Australian governments, who co-own the world's largest gold mine in West Papua (that casually makes a profit in the billions each year). The West Papuan peace protests against the devastation of their land and natural resources have been repeatedly met with massacre by their Indonesian occupiers, who have been systematically stripping the West Papuan identity for over 50 years.
This tragic story has been kept quiet by the ban on journalists and foreign aid in the region, so the film aims to raise money and awareness for the Free West Papua cause. "It's happening right next to us and people know nothing about it, but once they do we find they really want to take action," says Brennan.
The doco, which has already won the 2016 Documentary Feature Award of Merit at the IndieFest Film Festival in San Diego, features an interview with two time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and long time WP political prisoner Benny Wenda. The Nelson Mandela of the WP cause, Wenda will introduce each screening, most of which are followed by a live punk gig.
This punk cause won't stop there, with an annual, global concert planned for the end of June. "The point was to raise real awareness, and seeing the cause go international is a victory, says Brennan. "The film has done its purpose," he adds. What started as one gig back in 2015 is now spanning five countries, including US, UK, Australia, South Africa, Spain and Japan. That's going to be one loud roar for injustice.