Disciples is a documentary that follows three opposing subcultures in contemporary Maylasia with only one thing in common: skinheads.
Through different perspectives, including that of Martin, an anti-fascist fourteen year old, filmmaker Jess Kohl unravels the dynamics between the three skinhead groups: S.H.A.R.P. - Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice; Traditional/ Trad - people who do not believe in labels and Malaay Power - far right nationalists with neo Nazi views.
The two rival extremes S.H.A.R.P and Malaay Power talk political angst towards one another, with traditional skinheads not in active opposition but rather seeing themselves as the balanced group, while Malaay Power ironically adorn the traditional skinhead look from British working class in 1960s.
Disciples gives us an insight into Malaysian multiculturalism, globalisation of fashion and a self awareness of a global versus local perspective in response to a growing universal problem: the rise of extreme far right ideology and ethno-nationalism. A problem that is particularly potent when these ideologies start in youth culture.
When the groups are mutually invited to the annual Malaysian Skinhead Dinner, all sides question this problem and within it, their identities and belief systems.
Since Malaysia's independence from British colonialism the existence of racial hierarchies have been structured according to Malays making up the largest ethnic group. This has made it harder for Indian and Chinese minority groups to share inclusion in civil policy and status, despite immigrating before independence.
Martin, the youngest member of S.H.A.R.P is a hope for the future, both as a spectacle for white western media and an example of a Muslim individual governing their own faith and politics in another society that faces racial polarisation and social incohesion.
Jess Kohl “I was drawn to this pocket of youth culture for the shared aesthetics, yet contrasting ideologies that exist within it. Although geographically very different from the origins of skinhead, similarities exist in the socio-economic experiences and quest for identity that these groups are experiencing. The different factions explored in Disciples - fiercely anti-racist, or neo-Nazi - adhere to the same strict rules around fashion and appearance, yet see the world in completely different ways."
Director - IG - @jess.kohl - Twitter - @jesskohlx
Commissioner / Exec Producer - IG @_justbec
Editor - IG @andrewjosephcross
Director of Photography - IG @adricwatson
Producers - IG @hadi.azmi + @shle.d
Exec Producers - IG @thomasgorton + @juliette_larthe