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Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
17 February 2022, 16:05

New documentary on Don Letts, legendary punk and reggae filmmaker and DJ, to be released next month

Rebel Dread sets the pioneering artist's story against a backdrop of systemic racism in UK politics

New documentary on Don Letts, legendary punk and reggae filmmaker and DJ, to be released next month

A new documentary about British punk and reggae filmmaker, DJ and musician Don Letts is set to be released next month. Watch the trailer for the doc below. 

Rebel Dread is directed by William E. Badgley, whose previous work includes films about the bands The Slits and KARP, and the murder of John Lennon. His new release will play on select UK screens in March, including London's Ritzy and BFI Southbank (2/3 and 3/3), Glasgow Film Festival (4/3), HOME Manchester (5/3), and Sheffield's Showroom Workstation (6/3).

The film tells the story of how Letts, a first generation, British-born child of Windrush Generation parents, rose to prominence as a filmmaker, DJ, musician, and cultural commentator in the early punk scene, directing music videos for acts such as The Clash. The doc is framed against the notorious 1968 Rivers of Blood speech by far-right English politician Enoch Powell, and the UK's 2018 adoption of a 'hostile environment' immigration policy. 

As the film's website explains: "The film covers Don’s relationship with the nascent punk scene of the 1970s and 80s – how rastas and punks found a common bond, both outside of the mainstream, and how Don introduced reggae to the punks. Don was part of the inner circle of The Clash and Johnny Rotten. He later formed Big Audio Dynamite with Mick Jones, and made music that incorporated dance, reggae, rap, film samples and rock n roll." 

Following opening weekend, Rebel Dread has further screenings in London, and will also hit cinemas in Nottingham, Bristol, Dublin, Belfast, Norwich, Hereford, Stornoway, and Chichester. Tickets are on sale now, with a full calendar of dates and times. 

In September, Letts contributed to the critically acclaimed Late Night Tales mix compilation series. Listen back to the Top 10 Notting Hill Carnival Tunes playlist he compiled for DJ Mag in 2018.