Film Review: Uproar


Directed by Paul Middleditch, Hamish Bennett
110 min – New Zealand
US Premiere

Uproar is set in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1981, and the events take place around actual events.

That year saw protests against South African apartheid erupt as the SA rugby team, Springboks, heads to NZ for a match. This expanded to include protests against colonialism in NZ and the never-received promised land for Maori people.

The lead is the charismatic Julian Dennison, from Hunt for the Wilderpeople, who plays a half-Maori high school student whose interests are torn (and pushed) in several directions. His political activism and pride in his heritage gradually awakens, but he’s also forced into playing rugby at his school, and encouraged to try out for the Drama Academy (based on one short scene which shows his acting gift…).

On top of this are issues of friendship, family, depression, body-shaming, and bullying. Uproar tries to be a few too many things, and is a bit overstuffed with plot, but is nevertheless very enjoyable.

Minnie Driver plays his widowed mother, and Rhys Darby plays a sympathetic teacher at his boys’ school. And the recreation of 1981 New Zealand is authentic and beautiful.

Uproar will play again on Feb 10 at 8:30 am at the Metro 4 Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through the Santa Barbara International Film Festival:

Jackie Spafford

Written by Jackie Spafford

Jackie Spafford is an independent film consultant and contributes film reviews for

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