Bradford 12 1982

Regent’s lecturer awarded feature documentary commission from the British Film Institute

Dr Ken Fero, Course Leader on the MA Media and Digital Communications at Regent’s, has been asked to direct and produce a radical feature-length documentary about the seminal case of the Bradford 12, supported by the BFI Doc Society Fund

In 1981 twelve young Asian men were arrested and charged with terrorism for defending Bradford from an imminent racist skinhead attack. Following national and international protests in support of the defendants, and a tense, lengthy trial, they were acquitted establishing the precedent of the right to organised self-defence for the first time in the UK. This will be their story. 

At the time, Bradford was tense with police-inspired rumours of an imminent invasion by coachloads of racist skinheads. The United Black Youth League called for an organised defence of Bradford and prepared themselves, along with others from the community. Twelve men were arrested in a case that became known as The Bradford 12. The defendants were imprisoned on conspiracy and terrorism charges, facing life behind bars. The police said they were terrorists. The community rebutted, "They are our sons." 

The documentary will be a journey through the case, from the victories against the old racism and fascism of the 80s, to the resistance against the new racism of Islamophobia of the present. We will see how the Asian Youth Movements and United Black Youth League were actively engaged in showing solidarity with the dead of the New Cross Massacre; of protesting against racist murders in Southall and East London and organising community self-defence of Brick Lane. They actively supported anti-colonial struggles internationally, especially in Palestine and Ireland. 

‘Self-defence is no offence’ became a rallying cry that captured the imagination of people internationally and still resonates across the world. This film will celebrate the resistance of the time and link it to the struggles of today. 

Dr Fero said, “This will be a major piece of work with critical impact. Students on the MA, as well as the BA Film & Screen, will be given meaningful roles on the project working as crew, researchers and in marketing. This will provide them with real world experiences and help them to expand their skills, and their contacts, within the industry.”  

The BFI Doc Society Fund was launched in 2018, as Doc Society became the BFI’s delegate partner for independent UK documentary filmmaking. 

The BFI is a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image.