Rebel Dykes

Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams

desired! – film lust & queer

This film will also be available online on our VoD platform from March 29 to April 10, 2022. Please note: This film will only be available in Germany.

Rebel Dykes tells the story of a group of young, renegade and gender-nonconforming women, or dykes, who create their own radical, lesbian and sex-positive culture in 1980s London. Their paths collide at a feminist protest camp and in the punk and squatter scene. A key hub of their activities is the Chain Reaction, a club where they start a regular BDSM night, among other things. Their rebellious attitude is also a reaction to the adverse social environment in which they live: the homophobic and transphobic day-to-day life, the emerging AIDS crisis, the depressing policies of the Thatcher government or the censorship of homoerotic publications. Add to this the hostility from the lesbian-feminist movement itself, whose narrow vision of feminism is incompatible with the desire for BDSM, leather and fetish clothing.

Based on interviews, a wealth of previously unpublished archive material and self-created animations, the documentary reconstructs an important segment of the history of the lesbian movement. Trans and Black perspectives also share centre stage. Accompanying the film is a great soundtrack that also brings the music of the forgotten feminist (post-)punk bands of the time storming back. The film-makers partly digitalised songs that only existed on cassette. In this way, Rebel Dykes creates a brilliant, stirring portrait of the scene.

In cooperation with LAG Lesben NRW.

This film has been nominated for the Audience Award endowed with 1,000 euro. Please vote after watching the movie.
You can find an overview of all nominated films here.

Director / Cinematography / Editing

Siân A. Williams, Harri Shanahan


Whitney Bluzma, Harri Shanahan, Michael-Jon Mizra, Nat Sutcliffe, Matty Simpson


Alexia Sharoud




Debbie Smith, Roz Kaveney, Maj Ikle, Seija Hirstio, Baya, Karen Fisch, Del La Grace Volcano, Yvonne Taylor, Lulu Belliveau, Siobhan Fahey, Poulomi Usurp Desai, Jo, Susannah Bowyer, Lisa Power, Atalanta Kernick, Billy, Rosanne Rabinowitz, Aphra


Siobhan Fahey – Riot Productions


GQUE Films

Portrait of Siân A. Williams (l.) and Harri Shanahan (r.)

Harri Shanahan and Siân A. Williams

Harri Shanahan is a film-maker, artist, and animator who, after studying film, first created experimental/post-punk music videos and artistic moving images, among other things. For Rebel Dykes they learned animation, then liked it so much that a master’s degree followed in 2019. Shanahan sings and plays keyboard in the queer-feminist post-punk band ILL.
Siân A. Williams is a film-maker and archivist. Williams studied photography and artistic moving image, also has a master’s degree in critical theory and digital heritage and has worked at the BFI National Archive and Archives+ Manchester, among others. Williams’ short films and immersive installations for multiple screens have been shown in Manchester, Birmingham, London, and Uppsala. Shanahan and Williams live in Manchester.

Films by Harri Shanahan

Aliens Unzipped 2015