Uproar is set in 1981, when a New Zealand tour by the all-white South African rugby team sparked massive protests against South Africa’s racist apartheid regime.
Josh Waaka (an outstanding Julian Dennison) does not want to get involved.
Son of a Maori father and an English mother, he is a brown teenager in an almost all white New Zealand Christian school. Picked on and bullied, he is more concerned with keeping out of trouble than in taking part in demonstrations.
“I’m a Maori surrounded by white kids,” he says. “You don’t know what it feels like, to not fit in.”
Josh’s father and his older brother Jamie (James Rolleston) were both rugby stars and school heroes, but his father died seven years before and Jamie is dealing with an injury which ended his rugby and has left him struggling.
Then one of the teachers (Rhys Darby) persuades Josh to audition for drama school. This opens up new ways of looking at the world, and brings him closer to his Maori heritage.
When Samantha’s Auntie Tui talks about the injustice suffered by the Maoris, Josh is shocked.
“We know what it is to belong to a land and at the same time be made to feel unwelcome. We can’t just get over it, because it is still happening,” she tells him.
“I didn’t know that about your people,” he says.
“Darling, they’re your people too,” she reminds him.
Though the school principal has ordered the students not to join any protests, and Josh’s mother (Minnie Driver) warns him not to make trouble for his family, Josh cannot help getting involved.
“Come join us,” urges his friend Samantha (Erana James). “We’ve got the whole world watching us right now and we can’t waste this moment.”
Co-directors Hamish Bennett and Paul Middleditch have produced an engaging, if predictable, drama, with excellent performances by all involved.
Uproar is now showing at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and the Windsor Cinema.
Watch the trailer…