- Director: Jeffrey Walker
- Writer: Greg Waters; Carrie Anderson
- Producer: Louise Smith
From humble beginnings did the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras spring...this made-for-TV film tells that story...
And, what a story it is...wholly deserving of a bigger, meatier production than this. Not that Riot is a bad film - far from it - but, budgetry and creative restraints are screaming louder than a tyrannical activist hellbent on a showdown!
What this story deserved was a When We Rise approach...TV movies rarely deliver, a TV mini-series would have been the way to go...the story is so vast, in terms of timespan [decades] and the inherent complexities [found within the then fundamentally fractured community]. Everyone had an opinion, everyone had a vision and, rarely, did anyone agree with anyone! Not too different from now!
Lance Gowland was - quite literally - the driving force behind and for the first Mardi Gras. He was a complex man, previously married with three children...he joined the gay solidarity movement and threw himself into the fight for justice and equality. Every year Sydney revels in his [and Co's] achievements. A man most deserving of celebration and memorial...he died in 2008.
Riot could have worked better if there has been a contrast between the then and now...juxtapositioning the [extreme] police brutality of the then with the revelling police of the now! Youngsters take it all for granted...some probably think that there was always a Mardi Gras...sure, for them, 1978 was a long, long time ago!
The three main protagonists of inequality [and hate] are the government, the police and the church...in order to sustain discrimination you need to have a valid argument/explanation, Riot doesn't dig deep enough...when opinions and attitudes change [as they have done], the hypocrisies of these protagonists is as loud and clear as a drag queen - on opening night - in overdrive.
This is a paint-by-numbers bio-pic with a limited colour palette...as a cursory introduction to Australian LGBT history, it does an adequate job. As a memorial to all the '78ers' - it could have been a little more generous to all the others who were involved.
Mardi Gras owes a debt of gratitude to Lance Gowland & Co...this film should help them repay it!
ABC has commissioned a telemovie that will dramatise the birth of the gay rights movement in Australia in the 1970s. The telemovie will air in 2018, to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1978 protest march that gave birth to the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney.