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A telemovie set in the 1970s, Riot is the story of gay activists who took to the streets of Sydney to celebrate diversity — only to find themselves in a violent confrontation with police. It is the story of the events that led to the founding of Sydney’s Mardi Gras. Based on interviews with participants, recorded oral histories and research from the era, Riot brings to life a significant milestone in our recent social history.
Waters’ sensitive and skilfully constructed screenplay does a superb job of depicting a range of gay and lesbian characters as they reimagine domestic arrangements, relationships and work. It asks: What does it mean to be a family? Riot juxtaposes heartbreaking moments of violence, defiance, love and humour. The result is a moving and engaging portrait of a marginalised community who brokered wider societal change.