A new documentary, “White Riot” will look at the early punk movement and its involvement in the Rock Against Racism organization in the mid 70’s. The film will come out via Virtual Cinema on October 16th.
The movie looks at mid-70’s Britain and how the punk movement was swinging to the far right in supporting racism in the country. In the trailer, the founder of Rock Against Racism, Roger Huddle is quoted as saying, “We said what we need to do is do a gig, a thing called Rock Against Racism”.
Another co-founder, Red Saunders, is quoted as saying, “We want rebel music, street music, music that breaks down people’s fear of one another, music that knows who the real enemy is”.
The film starts by chronicling Britain in the 70’s. It shows police riots, race related arrests and the harassment of people of color.
It goes on to show how organizers planned an anti-racist march that would take over 100,000 protestors from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Square where they would then enjoy a concert featuring iconic bands like the Clash, Steel Pulse, Tom Robinson and X-Ray Spex.
There is concert footage of the bands in the film as well other well-known punk tracks and interviews with musicians and organizers who backed the Rock Against Racism movement.
The Selecters’ Pauline Black says, “Rock Against Racism was white people finally waking up to the fact that there’s racism here”.
The film was directed by Rubkia Shah who also worked on “White Riot: London”, a film about the effects of immigration on the U.K. in the late 70’s. She also worked on shorts about Spike Lee and David Bowie.
Documentary distributor Film Movement announced the film on Tuesday, a date chosen because it coincides with Voter Registration Day. The company partnered with Head Count, an organization that promotes voter registration awareness. Those who check out the film on Virtual Cinema will also have the opportunity to check out Head Count’s shorts.
Rock Against Racism formed in 1976 after Eric Clapton endorsed conservative politician Enoch Powell after he gave a speech complaining about immigration in the U.K. The speech inspired racism throughout the country and Rock Against Racism was organized as a response.
Clapton has since apologized for his comments. In his documentary “Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars” he as quoted as saying, “I sabotaged everything I got involved with. I was so ashamed of who I was, a kind of semi-racist, which didn’t make any sense. Half of my friends were black, I dated a black woman and I championed black music”.
The mid-70’s was an interesting time in the U.K and this pivotal documentary is coming out to document that era and as a response to the current political climate. This important film is recommended for fans of all musical genres and anyone who is interested in the anti-racism movement.