BFI Flare Review: Rebel Dykes

Group on the streets of London

There once was a time when youthful rebellion and protest were a mainstay of British life. Indeed, activism and campaigning were often regular pastimes during the 1970s and early 1980s. Especially around the time when Margaret Thatcher came to power and society was becoming increasingly conservative. AIDS was on the rise and a number of groups were beginning to get their voices heard and organise marches.

Coming out of the Greenham Common peace camp, a group of tight-knit friends began organising events and entertainment around London. Occupying squats, they started BDSM clubs to explore their sexuality, formed bands and became artists, writers and performers. Many turned to activism and attended rally after rally. They frequently came into conflict with other feminists, causing splits and ruptures within the community.

Their story is told in Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams’ new documentary, Rebel Dykes. Using archive footage interspersed with contemporary interviews, we’re transported into a wild and hedonistic world of young lesbians doing whatever they wanted. Having the courage of their convictions and being prepared to follow their dreams; making sure their voices were heard. Whilst it’s fairly standard in structure, Rebel Dykes is a rabble-rousing portrait of a group of unstoppable women.

Rebel Dyes screens at BFI Flare.

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