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New documentary on Netflix tells the inside story of Extinction Rebellion
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Exinction Rebellion protest in Parliament Square

Rebellion is the first feature-length documentary to tell the behind-the-scenes story of Extinction Rebellion (XR) from its launch in 2018.

The documentary, directed by Maia Kenworthy and Elena Sánchez Bellot and produced by Kat Mansoor, will launch in UK cinemas on 18 March and be available to stream on Netflix from 01 April.

Given unprecedented access, the filmmakers follow a diverse group of unlikely allies who have come together to confront the climate emergency, and depicts the highs and lows of the movement as they crash into the status quo – and each other.

‘It wasn’t a fair fight’

In the decade since the financial crisis, action on climate change had 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 on a scale not seen for decades.

Rebellion follows the journey of XR co-founders as well as Farhana Yamin, an international environmental 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.’

Civil disobedience

In April 2019, XR brought London to a standstill as thousands took part in the biggest act of civil disobedience in modern British history.

Within days of the protests, a climate emergency was declared by the UK Parliament and climate change was propelled to the heart of public debate.


Many countries around the world, from Canada to Bangladesh, followed suit declaring emergencies.

But rebelling has repercussions.

In the wake of XR protests we witnessed the backlash, as police blacklisted activists and the government pushed a new bill that threatened 10-year jail sentences for those causing ‘serious annoyance or inconvenience.’

The state of our democracy

Challenging the state is difficult. Keeping a movement together is even harder and,
as XR became a global phenomenon, internal tensions appeared.

Clashing ideas and priorities emerged, culminating in XR Youth 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 own democracy. The moment of protest freedoms depicted in the film may soon be impossible.

The film’s release comes as parliament this month will debate the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that aims to curtail the space for non-violent protest. The Bill has been criticised by human rights campaigners as an attack on free speech and democracy.

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