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DOCS TO WATCH: Rebel Rebel

Monday 13 April, 2020

As we gear up to show the documentary that really gets to the black heart of modern satanism - and, spoiler, it's nothing like what you might think - our minds are turning to other brilliant, beautiful rebels out there.

So, kicking off with Hail Satan? itself (watch party this Friday), we offer up this selection of recommended docs to watch online that feature free thinkers who challenge social conventions, whether they're all out political agitators or simply dare to follow their own path.

This one goes out to the outsiders, the rabble rousers and the rebels with a cause. We see you.


HAIL SATAN? Penny Lane / USA / 2018 / 85 mins

The Satanic Temple in Salem is serious about equal rights. Dressed in ceremonial robes, the group embarks on a series of public actions that provoke discussion as well as fury – including having a statue of the goat-headed deity Baphomet placed next to a monument celebrating the Ten Commandments.

As their following expands rapidly – from three members to over 100,000 in three years – so does the outrage and violent threats from their opposition.

Rocking religious and political institutions, the Satanic Temple makes serious points, but with a devilish tongue lodged firmly in cheek.

Watch Hail Satan? with us on Friday 13th April, or in your own time on Netflix, Youtube, Google Play, or Amazon Prime.


THE MAN WHOSE MIND EXPLODED Toby Amies / UK / 2013 / 75 mins

Transgressive, playful and larger-than-life, Drako Zahazar's vaunted past includes modelling for Salvadore Dali, acting for Derek Jarman, dealing drugs to the Rolling Stones, and indulging his many pecadillos and fetishes. But after two freak accidents he lives 'completely in the now', with brain damage that has robbed him of the ability to create memories. 

Director Toby Amies finds and befriends Drako, living in a small flat in Brighton bedecked with his external, paper-based substitue for a memory: photos, memerobilia, notes and objects (by and large phallic) hanging and attached to every surface.

The Man Whose Mind Exploded follows Drako's final years and documents a messy, frustrating and touching relationship between director and subject.

Watch The Man Whose Mind Exploded on Google Play, Youtube, or iTunes.


OUAGA GIRLS Theresa Traore Dahlberg / Sweden, France, Burkina Faso, Qatar / 2017 / 83 mins

A group of young women tweak machines and hammer away at a school for auto mechanics in Burkina Faso in this poetic story about life choices, sisterhood and the endeavour to find your own way.

In a country with youth unemployment at 52%, the women work towards their graduation in Ouagadougou while challenging society’s expectations of a woman’s role. Ouaga Girls takes us inside the world of these women in their final school year as they build a future that will be theirs alone. A beautifully observed debut feature from Theresa Traore Dahlberg.

Watch Ouaga Girls on vimeo here.


PUSSY RIOT - A PUNK PRAYER Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin / UK / 2013 / 86 mins

On February 21st, 2012, following the controversial re-election of Vladimir Putin, Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot committed a very public act of defiance on the altar of Moscow's most venerated cathedral. Their 40 second 'punk prayer', performed in their now iconic multi-coloured balaclavas, openly challenged Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, and set in motion one of the greatest 'show trials' of recent times.

Pussy Riot were immediately arrested on charges of religious hatred. When three members of the group were sentenced to three years in a penal colony the severity of the punishment galvanised international support and protests across the world.

With unparalleled access, Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer puts a personal face on an act of rebellion, going beyond the media furore and following three women prepared to defend their actions whatever it may cost them.

Watch Pussy Riot - A Punk Player on BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Youtube, iTunes, or Google Play.

Then watch the DocHouse Q&A with co-director Mike Lerner here.

As a companion piece, and no less powerful a testament to brave and provocative artists challenging the regime, try Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus (Madeleine Sackler / USA / 2013 / 76 mins). Watch on Youtube, Google Play, or iTunes.


TWO YEARS AT SEA Ben Rivers / UK / 2011 / 90 mins 

For a gentle end to the list - and in some ways a gentler form of personal resistance to societal norms - British artist Ben Rivers' first feature-length film documents the solitary existence of Jake Williams, who lives in isolation in the Scottish Highlands. His time is spent in pursuits both frugal and somehow eccentric.

Shot in black and white on 16mm, and largely hand-processed by Rivers himself, this richly textured portrait of a life lived fundamentally off-grid, is both profoundly simple and strangely enigmatic. Its wordlessness speaks volumes about patience and quietude. 

Watch Two Years at Sea on the BFI Player and Amazon Prime.