Director: Rubika Shah
United Kingdom
81 minutes
All Ages

A moment in time when music changed the world, when a generation challenged the status quo.

Punk exploded across Britain in the late 1970s. The country was deeply divided over immigration, and the far-right National Front was gaining strength with its xenophobic agenda. An outraged music photographer, Red Saunders, published a letter in the music press, calling for rock to be a force against racism. Teaming up with like-minded creatives Roger Huddle, Kate Webb, Syd Shelton and Australian graphic designer Ruth Gregory, the team banded together to create Rock Against Racism (RAR) and a fanzine, Temporary Hoarding. Speaking directly to youth, Temporary Hoarding reported stories and issues that the mainstream British media ignored, including immigration, the Catholic side of the Northern Ireland conflict, and the police’s controversial “suspected persons” (sus) powers. They gave a voice to the voiceless. Despite attacks by the National Front, RAR spread virally across the UK and into Europe, becoming a grassroots youth movement. The Clash, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson and other top bands of the day jumped on board. White Riot is Woodstock meets the March on Washington, punk-style. Rubika Shah, who kickstarted her career working in Australia, won the Documentary competition with this film at the 2019 London Film Festival.

Film Type Documentary
Program Strand Sounds of Rebellion
Language English
Director Rubika Shah
Producer Ed Gibbs
Screenwriters Ed Gibbs, Rubika Shah
Cinematographer Susanne Salavati
Editor Rubika Shah
Music Aisling Brouwer
Accolades London, Grierson Award, 2019; Berlin, Special Mention, 2020; Krakow, Best Music Documentary, 2020
Genre History, Music, Social Issue