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Redefining Rebellion

September 2020

Revisit Mathieu Kassovitz’s game-changing classic as well as the films which influenced and were inspired by it.


  • Les Misérables

    Les Misérables

    Ladj Ly’s extraordinary Cannes Jury Prize-winning debut obliterates the myth of cultural integration in France.

  • Battleship Potemkin

    Battleship Potemkin

    Sergei Eisenstein defined cinematic language in this classic Soviet tale of mutiny.

  • American Graffiti

    American Graffiti

    George Lucas’s comic poem allegorises the end of trust and innocence in America.

  • Taxi Driver

    Taxi Driver

    Robert De Niro is the ultimate anti-hero as Martin Scorsese decodes America’s liberal elite.

  • Norma Rae

    Norma Rae

    Sally Field delivers a career-high performance as a woman fighting capitalism and patriarchy.

  • Blue Collar

    Blue Collar

    Paul Schrader's progressive, tragicomic takedown of systemic corruption.

  • Young Soul Rebels

    Young Soul Rebels

    Isaac Julien radically unpicks British subcultures at the time of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

  • Beau Travail

    Beau Travail

    Hypnotic images, mutiny and queer desire combine in Denis’ sensual masterpiece.

  • Persepolis


    Award-winning animation traces the Iranian director’s search for revolutionary self-expression.

  • Dheepan


    Audiard’s Palme d’or-winner is a genre-busting ‘western’ that explodes French universalism.

  • Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Documentary on Basquiat capturing the birth of graffiti and hip-hop culture in New York.

  • Girlhood


    Sciamma’s tale of female growing-pains blows up the tower blocks of defined societal roles.

  • Amateurs


    Two immigrant girls make a homemade movie uncovering the other side of their Swedish homeland.


Growing up I wanted to be The Outsiders’ Dallas Winston or Brando on a motorcycle. I heard mythic tales about the two Jameses, Cagney and Dean. And De Niro – the king of cool. It’s an indictment of cinema, what a British teenager with South Asian parents was being served up as the epitome of rebellion. Then came La Haine. It felt different from my favourite film, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing: director Mathieu Kassovitz was telling a story about three best friends from different cultural backgrounds who grew up on the estate. People just like me, and my friends. I and, more importantly, a plethora of filmmakers felt emboldened to tell their stories. La Haine is the heart of a cinematic journey that started with Battleship Potemkin’s mutiny against the state, continued through damning societal injustice in New Hollywood Cinema, and on to headbutting gender and racial stereotypes. Redefining Rebellion.

Kaleem Aftab

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