Set in 1980s post-punk London, the rabble-rousing documentary Rebel Dykes will be released in the UK and Ireland through a newly announced partnership between BFI Distribution and Bohemia Media.

Directed by Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams, and produced by Riot Productions’ Siobhan Fahey, Rebel Dykes tells the unheard story of a community of dykes who met doing art, music, politics and sex, and how they went on to change their world. BFI Distribution and Bohemia Media will release the film in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 26 November 2021. 

The film follows a tight-knit group of friends who met at Greenham Common peace camp and went on to become artists, performers, musicians and activists in London. A heady mash-up of animation, archive footage and interviews tells the story of a radical scene: squatters, BDSM nightclubs, anti-Thatcher rallies, protests demanding action around AIDS and the fierce ties of chosen families.

Birds’ Eye View (BEV) and Reclaim The Frame will partner on a live event cinema roadshow across UK-wide cinemas with special livestream virtual events on Bohemia Euphoria, Bohemia Media’s new VOD, livestream and community building platform, dedicated to amplifying the voices and stories of historically under-represented people. Rebel Dykes will be available exclusively on SVOD from 21 January 2022 on BFI Player and Bohemia Euphoria.

After a popular screening as a work-in-progress at BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival in 2016, Rebel Dykes came back to BFI Flare with a bang for its world premiere in March 2021, where, screened digitally via BFI Player, it was one of the hits of the programme. It has subsequently premiered in Australia (Melbourne Queer Film Festival) and the USA (Milwaukee Film Festival); it had its Scottish premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 20 August and has its South East Asia premiere (KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival) on 27 August.

Rebel Dykes was funded by crowdfunding and a Patreon by the UK and global LGBTQ community; from a variety of queer and feminist organisations; from private investors and from Independent Film Trust, David Family Trust and Screen Scotland. The film is produced by Siobhan Fahey and executive produced by Charlotte Knowles, Melanie Iredale, Michelle Mangan and Phil Hunt.

“Rebel Dykes was a great hit at this year’s BFI Flare and we felt that as well as giving its LGBTIQ+ fans the chance of a shared, big screen experience, it should also reach a broader audience,” says Julie Pearce, BFI Head of Distribution. “It’s a superb, ground-breaking documentary that will appeal to anyone interested in the cultural side of London life and the club and music scene in the 80s.”

“Bohemia is about amplifying marginalised communities and lifting up the hood of countercultural movements, and what a great movement this was,” says Phil Hunt, founder and Managing Director of Bohemia Media. “Being ‘of an age’ having grown up in the punk movement, adds to making this a very special film for me to distribute and I take my mohawk off to these very special women who have helped shape society for the better. I’m thrilled to be partnering with the BFI as our cultural remit is so closely aligned. With more than a decade of co-financing films with my other companies, this new partnership is an extension of our great working relationship.”