Sheffield DocFest To Premiere ‘Strike: An Uncivil War’ About Battle Of Orgreave When U.K. Police Attacked Striking Union Workers; Watch Trailer

7th Jun, 2024

Sheffield DocFest To Premiere ‘Strike: An Uncivil War’ About Battle Of Orgreave When U.K. Police Attacked Striking Union Workers; Watch Trailer

By Matthew Carey

More Stories By Matthew

June 7, 2024 4:00am

EXCLUSIVE: The 40th anniversary of one of the most brutal days in modern British history is about to be observed – the day when a massive deployment of police attacked striking laborers at a coking plant in Orgreave, in South Yorkshire.

At the time, the government of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as well as news media, held workers responsible for the violent outburst, claiming police had acted in self-defense. There was good reason for the conservative Thatcher government to mislead the public about what had happened; the PM and her party were intent on destroying the power of unions in Great Britain, especially the National Union of Mineworkers.

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A bloodied striker is led away in ‘Strike: An Uncivil War’Tull Stories/VeryMuchSo/Embankment Films

The documentary Strike: An Uncivil War, directed by Daniel Gordon, sets the record straight about what happened in Orgreave on June 18, 1984. The film premieres June 16 at Sheffield DocFest, the U.K.’s preeminent nonfiction film festival. There is an excellent reason to unveil the film at DocFest, aside from the festival’s stature: Sheffield sits just seven miles to the east of Orgreave.

Independent U.K. distribution and exhibition agency Tull Stories is partnering with VeryMuchSo and Embankment Films to release the documentary in cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland. That will begin with a theatrical preview on Tuesday, June 18, the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave. Strike: An Uncivil War will then go wide on Friday, June 21. We have your first look at the film in the trailer above.

Police on horseback assault strikers in ‘Strike: An Uncivil War’Tull Stories/VeryMuchSo/Embankment Films

“The film tells the story of the year-long Miners’ Strike of 1984/85 – the most violent and divisive industrial dispute that Britain has ever witnessed,” notes a release. “It pays particular focus to the Battle of Orgreave, which took place on 18th June 1984, the bloodiest day of the Strike. The media subsequently appeared to lay blame for the violence at the feet of the strikers. Daniel Gordon’s comprehensive documentary doesn’t just overturn this fabrication, it portrays what took place as planned action on the part of the Thatcher government, with the Prime Minister determined to seek redress for the National Union of Mineworkers victory over the Conservative government in the early 1970s and to forever break the union’s role at the heart of British working-class society.”

Strike: An Uncivil War features “powerful personal testimony, previously hidden government documents and never-before seen archive material… [showing] first-hand the stories and recollections of the people on the front lines of this incredible moment in time, which split communities and the nation in two, and whose ripples still resonate to this very day.”

Gordon is the BAFTA-winning director of the 2014 documentary Hillsborough, about a horrifying incident at a football stadium in Sheffield in 1989 when almost 100 fans were crushed to death. Gordon’s credits also include Billion Dollar Heist (2023), the 2020 docuseries The Trials of Oscar Pistorius, and The Australian Dream (2019).

Director Daniel GordonTull Stories/VeryMuchSo/Embankment Films

“Strike: An Uncivil War is a film I have been wanting to make for over a decade now,” Gordon said in a statement. “My mum grew up in a mining village in South Yorkshire, and I grew up very aware of the strength of that community. I turned 12 during the Strike and to see the destruction brought on by it was something I could only observe on television and through a child’s lens, but over the years I have always been determined to revisit this period and go beyond the lazy headlines and official narrative of the time.”

His statement continued, “After making Hillsborough, I knew that Strike and in particular The Battle of Orgreave was next. There are so many similarities with Hillsborough and Orgreave – the cover up, the shifting of blame by the government and other instruments of the state. What has shocked me though was discovering the level of planning. From the very top. A government hell bent on destroying its own people. A very uncivil war if you like. And it is scandalous to discover how far they were prepared to go, in a ‘democratic’ country such as Britain, with results that continue to have an impact to this day. I hope this film can continue to raise awareness and, in some way, shine a light on the justice denied.”

Strike: An Uncivil War is one of at least two films playing at Sheffield DocFest that focus on labor. Union, directed by Brett Story and Stephen Maing, examines the first Amazon facility to be unionized, a warehouse in the Staten Island section of New York City. It features charismatic rapper turned union organizer Chris Smalls who led the successful organizing drive and serves as president of the Amazon Labor Union.

An injured striker in ‘Strike: An Uncivil War’ John Sherbourne/ANL/Shutterstock

Strike: A Uncivil War is premiering at a historic moment in the U.K., just a couple of weeks before the general election slated for July 4. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, head of the Conservative Party and a successor of Margaret Thatcher, is attempting to remain in power, although polls suggest he may be beaten badly. An Ipsos survey published June 5 found 43 percent of voters favoring the opposition Labour Party, while only 23 percent said they intended to back the Conservatives.