Rebellion is the first feature-length documentary to tell the behind-the-scenes story of Extinction Rebellion, following a group of unlikely allies as they come together to confront the climate and ecological emergency.
In the decade after the Financial Crisis, action on climate change slipped right down the political agenda. In 2018 a new group emerged, Extinction Rebellion (XR), with a bold tactic to break through the deadlock: mass civil disobedience.
Rebellion follows the journey of XR co-founders as well as Farhana Yamin, an international lawyer who played a key role in negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement, as she decides to break the law for the first time in her life. After decades of UN climate negotiations, Farhana is determined to sound the alarm and see governments act. As Farhana says in the film: “I’d come into the UN system thinking it’s a fair fight - we’ve got science and law and economic analysis. But you had intensive lobbying from the fossil fuel industries, and the financial industries that support them, and it wasn’t a fair fight.”
In April 2019, XR brings London to a standstill as thousands take part in the biggest act of civil disobedience since the Suffragettes. Within days of the protests, a climate emergency is declared by the UK Parliament and climate change is propelled to the heart of public debate. Many countries around the world, from Canada to Bangladesh, follow suit declaring emergencies.
Yet as XR becomes a global phenomenon, internal tensions rise. Here we see XR Youth come to the fore, calling out the power imbalances of the group. For them, climate change is not just an environmental issue but is rooted in - and reinforces - social inequalities.
Rebellion crucially tells a story about the health of our democracy, as we witness moves to restrict the power of peaceful protest - including a government bill threatening 10 year jail sentences for those causing ‘serious annoyance or inconvenience.’ The moment of protest freedoms depicted in the film may soon be impossible.