An exploration of how punk influenced politics in late-1970s Britain, White Riot documents the formation of the Rock Against Racism movement that put anti-racist politics at the heart of punk rock.
It’s 1970s UK, punk is exploding. The country is deeply divided over immigration and the National Front, a far right and fascist political party, is gaining strength. Outraged by a racist speech from Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders writes a letter to the music press, calling for rock to be a force against racism.
Flooded with responses, Saunders teams up with like-minded creatives Roger Huddle, Kate Webb, Syd Shelton and Australian graphic designer Ruth Gregory to create Rock Against Racism (RAR) and the fanzine ‘Temporary Hoarding’. Despite aggression from the National Front, RAR spread virally across the UK and the world, becoming a grassroots youth movement that culminated in a 100,000+ person march and concert where The Clash famously performed a raucous rendition of White Riot.
A lively debut from director Rubika Shah, White Riot blends contemporary interviews with archive footage to highlight how music changed the world and a generation challenged the status quo.