The Stonewall riots of 1969—when LGBTQ people fought back against an early morning police raid in Greenwich Village—are considered to be among the most important events in the struggle for gay rights in the U.S. But a similarly dramatic and pivotal activist movement took place in 1970s Australia, where homosexuality was still criminalized and persecution was commonplace.
Riot—an eye-opening and thrilling dramatization of historic events—is based largely on the true-life experiences of political provocateur Lance Gowland (Damon Herriman, Justified). The film vividly recounts his efforts, alongside Marg McMann (Kate Box, also seen in Fucking Adelaide), to bring together the diverse views of competing gay activist groups in Sydney: those who wished to combat the system at all costs, and those who preferred mainstream dialogue. Their fractious collaboration culminated in the first Sydney Mardi Gras street celebration in 1978, which, despite police brutality and arrests, planted the seeds of lasting civil rights change and equality.
With sharp, witty dialogue and sensitive direction by Jeffrey Walker (Modern Family, Difficult People), Riot gleefully re-creates the look (and hair and clothes) of its ’70s Aussie activist ensemble, with a cast including Xavier Samuel (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) and Jessica De Gouw (Arrow). Released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the original Mardi Gras and the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia, Riot is an epic, uplifting film experience that highlights a historic event in the LGBTQ liberation movement.
— TIM SIKA
This film includes depictions of graphic violence.
The GLBT Historical Society
- Premiere Status: International