JISOE is a compelling observational documentary that exposes the underbelly of Australian culture rarely explored by mainstream cinema. Set in Melbourne’s harsh underground graffiti scene this provocative film exposes for the first time how this international culture has carved its own identity in Australian suburbia.
The film is centred on the life of Justin Hughes (aka Jisoe), a young graffiti artist and part of an emerging Australian underclass. The story swings between Justin’s gritty daily existence of painting trains and smoking drugs, to sharing intimate and emotional snapshots of Justin’s life including the birth of his new baby, the degradation of his relationship and his eventual mental breakdown. Jisoe depicts a private, highly secretive (and paranoid) subculture, taking place completely in the face of the public. Although the film is set with a backdrop of ambitious graffiti art and a soundtrack of original local Hip Hop, Jisoe is much more than just a portrait of the Melbourne graffiti scene. It is moreover a candid human story that challenges the audience to consider an emerging Australian underclass that is both angry and disillusioned with their place in society. Told with an honesty only to match the honesty of the subject, Jisoe is social commentary at its best, unfolding with the kind of intimacy that can only be earned.