With little more than a toothbrush to his name and of ‘no fixed abode’, 19-year-old Rabbit has dedicated his life to small acts of protest against corruption. He spends most nights living out of a tent in an eco-village in Greater London, except when, as captured in the short documentary Small Protests, he’s on a mission to expose systemic abuse and greed. Set in 2009, during the UK parliamentary expenses scandal – in which several members of parliament (MPs) were exposed for misuse of government allowances – the film follows Rabbit and a merry band of fellow protesters as they squat in the ‘primary residence’ of two MPs in Brentford, west London. In doing so, they helped to prove that these MPs weren’t in fact residing at that address, and were therefore misusing public funds. Given the punk aesthetic of Rabbit and his crew, and their spirited, youthful discussions about how to bring down the system, it would be easy to write them off as naive idealists. But, as the UK director Zillah Bowes’s film documents, that would be to underestimate the lived commitment to their ideals and the challenges of a life built on dissent – which has become only more difficult since the government’s proposed restrictions on protest in 2021.
Director: Zillah Bowes
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