A compelling study of Rock Against Racism and its founding against the backdrop of rising racism in the UK. Beginning in 1976 as a response to the popularity of the National Front, racist demagogue Enoch Powell and, most acutely, famed musician Eric Clapton’s support for Powell, Rubika Shah’s powerful documentary builds to RAR’s breakthrough 100 000 people march and punk concert at London’s Victoria Park in 1978.
Weaving together archival footage and interviews, White Riot pungently contextualises the political, generational and musical shifts happening at the time. Punk as both music and ethos informs the film. The Clash, Sham 69 and X-Ray Spex perform to swaggering effect, while RAR’s grassroots beginning is mapped out by its founders Red Saunders, Kate Webb, Roger Huddle and Australian graphic designer Ruth Gregory. As important for its timely relevance as a document of its time, White Riot is both Rubika Shah’s debut feature, and was the winner of the 2019 Documentary Prize on its debut at the London Film Festival.