Directed by Rubika Shah
Streaming starts Friday, October 16
“A film that is a much about the power of solidarity as the dangers of intolerance. Leave the last words to Sham 69: if the kids are united, they will never be divided.”—Donald Clarke, Irish Times
This fascinating new documentary demonstrates how the punk music and design worlds joined forces to fight racism in Britain in the late-1970s. At the time, The National Front, a far-right and fascist political party, was gaining strength pushing a xenophobic agenda. Outraged by a racist speech from Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders wrote a letter to the music press, calling for rock to be a force against racism. Flooded with responses, Saunders discovered many shared his views.
Teaming up with like-minded artists 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 the youth, Temporary Hoarding reported stories and issues that the mainstream British media ignores, like immigration, the Catholic side of the Northern Ireland conflict, and the police’s controversial “suspected persons” powers. They gave a voice to the voiceless.
The National Front began to strike back, committing acts of violence against RAR supporters and bombing their headquarters. Despite this, RAR spread virally across the U.K .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 shows a moment in time when music changed the world. That generation challenged the status quo.
Winner of the Best Documentary, BFI London Film Festival. 2019, U.K., 84 minutes. Recommended for 16+.