Um Punk Chamado Ribas: A quick look into the documentary about the late João Ribas
“You must learn to live with your own conscience, your own morality, your own decision, your own self. You alone can do it. There is no authority but yourself.”
– Crass. Lyrics to “Taking Sides”. Yes Sir, I Will, 1983.
To those unfamiliar with the Portuguese music scene, the name João Ribas might not ring an immediate bell. The story of João Ribas is, in many ways, the story of punk rock in Portugal, as he was present in the scene since its early beginnings. Born in May 6th, 1965, in Alvalade, João Ribas is a name synonymous with the entire Portuguese punk rock scene, due to his presence in some of the most important bands in the genre – Tara Perdida, Censurados and Ku de Judas, in which he not only played guitar, he also lend his anthemic voice of revolution and societal non-conformity. Alongside other well-known punk acts such as Mata-Ratos, Crise Total and Grito Final, João Ribas paved the way to a new era of music and influenced various generations of young people and musicians alike.
Eternally influenced by theater and other forms of art – thanks to his sister, Isabel Ribas -, João always rejected the idea of being considered an icon, opting to take a more genuine posture in regards to his love for music, which he lived and breathed every single day, until his untimely departure in 2014 – to the point that, as remembered by João Pedro Almendra (Peste & Sida, Ku de Judas), João Ribas resembled Joey Ramone in many ways during his youth, from his positive and caring attitude towards others, to his hairdo at the time -, and many are those who remember him fondly.
“Um Punk Chamado Ribas” is, at its very core, a telling of João Ribas’ life. Directed by Paulo Antunes, it recounts through archived footage and various interviews with friends, family members and some of most well-known Portuguese punk personalities, the various aspects of Ribas’ life growing up, what motivated him, his character traits and, most importantly, his contributions to the punk rock scene. It is the perfect homage to a man that was stubborn and demanding of himself and others, but also humble, passionate and caring, attributes that enabled him to push his artistic visions further than most. A man that, without wanting it, forever became an icon of the Portuguese punk rock scene. A man called João Ribas.