Riots Reframed: Two Years On

By Yasmin Begum, Project Development Intern of Voice4Change England (V4CE)

A refreshing and alternative view of the riots told through the debut film of Fahim Alam, an Oxford Law graduate who was arrested during the 2011 riots. With interviews from academics to young people, it provides an eye opening portrayal of not only the riots, but of race, class and British society.

1300 people were arrested for what was deemed as participating in the London Riots of 2011. Out of those, just one in ten have been convicted. Fahim Alam, an Oxford Law graduate is one face of this statistic. Imprisoned for six weeks on remand and electronically tagged, he was accused of throwing bricks at the police in East London during the riots. When he appeared in court, the jury took just thirty minutes to acquit him. This case isn’t unusual: far from it, in fact those who weren’t acquitted were more likely to face disproportionate sentences as the government rolled out draconian preventative measures in full force as part of a "crackdown".

After his experiences, Fahim, with no prior experience of film-making, started his own company and created a documentary called ‘Riots Reframed’ made by Voice-Over productions. It was premiered in March 2013 and is currently on a tour called “Two Years On: Director’s Unfreedom Tour”.  It was screened yesterday at Birkbeck Cinema in central London, followed by a panel discussion including Alam himself.

Alam interviewed poets, academics, workers, young people, lawyers, ex-prisoners and many more to make his documentary: voices that haven’t been heard since the riots occurred. The film is an eye-opening and intelligent film looking at not only the riots, but exploring different narratives of what occurred throughout those brief few days in the summer of 2011 and the aftermath. Looking at the police, the prison system and events leading up the riots, the film is an honest and uncompromising look at what happened after the death of Mark Duggan by armed police who executed him.

Exploring the riots through these different perspectives- or rather, normal perspectives- is a refreshing change from politicians discussing the issue. Humanising the riots, Alam has created a beautiful and radical piece of social commentary on British society which will see it shown in Elephant and Castle, Tottenham and Hackney over the next two weeks.

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