5 films to rave about – Sound systems, acid-house and the yellow smiley


Grab your glow sticks and don the fluro with these films that celebrate the rave phenomenon as a sweet-harmony of escapism, hedonism and self-expression. Immerse yourself in these techno vibes, jungle beats and smooth synth that will have you throwing shapes.

RELATED: More 5 film suggestions to watch

1 Everybody in the Place 2018 15+

In this brief visual history of the British Rave scene, 2004 Turner Prize winning artist and director Jeremy Deller invites us into a London classroom where a group of year twelve and thirteen students explore rave as a united movement that redefined the social, cultural, and geographical landscape of Britain.

2 Beats 2019 MA15+

“Rave to the grave, the biggest night of your life Scotland”

In this end of an era film, Beats 2019 pairs the coming-of-age experience of two friends in central Scotland with the death rattle of the 90s rave scene. Largely filmed in black and white, Beats channels the films La Haine 1995 and Rumble Fish 1983 to echo the national delusion of 90s Britain, with the brief bursts of colour paying tribute to ravers as the accidental freedom fighters of the decade.

3 If It Were Love 2020 15+

If It Were Love 2020 centres on the dance piece ‘Crowd’ by choreographer Gisèle Vienne and re-enacts a slow-motion 90s rave in real time. Beautifully captured for the screen by director Patric Chiha, the skilful combination of cinematography and choreography transforms the cinema into an underground rave, celebrating what it means to be alive.

4 Climax 2018 R18+

Climax 2018 is a cinematic dance party that descends into a drug-fuelled nightmare. In this Fame 1980-meets-Trainspotting 1996 visual feast, Gaspar Noé’s beautiful but haunting film is inescapably enthralling, and is guaranteed to stay with you long after you’ve seen the film.

5 Bring Down The Walls 2020 15+

Born out of Chicago’s post-disco underground club scene in the early 1980s, house music has a longstanding history as a voice for repressed and marginalised communities across America. In this politically engaged, discursive documentary, 2006 Turner Prize-nominee Phil Collins (and no, not that Phil Collins!) invites us into the “Bring Down the Walls Project”; an anti-incarceration movement that transforms the dance floor into a space of connection and liberation to bring down the physical walls of the prison–industrial complex.

Art and Rave

If you’re starting to notice a pattern forming between Turner Prize artists and the Rave scene, 2008 Turner Prize winner Mark Lecky’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore 1999 is a must-see video work that captures the essence of the UK underground rave scene through a visual collage of raw footage and animation.

Victoria Wareham, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

Rave cinema program

The Rave cinema program (30 January until 10 March 2021) explored the rave scene as a site of connection, release and transformation. Born out of Chicago’s post-disco underground club scene in the late 1980s, rave counterculture continues to be a significant global movement, providing a space of liberation for repressed and marginalised communities. In periods of radical social, political and economic change, raves are energy-filled zones of autonomy that offer alternative spaces of freedom, hope and unity.

Dip into our Cinema blogs / View the ongoing Australian Cinémathèque program

The cinema program is accompanied by a new setlist developed by UK DJ Ben Hawkswell.
Program curated by Victoria Wareham, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

QAGOMA is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Featured image: If It Were Love 2020 / Director: Patric Chiha


  1. We have enjoyed many films at QAGOMA. However, we are classical music lovers and absolutely detest loud tuneless music. Would we enjoy any of these Rave offerings? We are hungry for some more good cinema experiences.

  2. Hello staff, I would like to come and watch a movie from the Rave selection tonight. Is there any tickets a need to purchase or spot to reserve?
    Thank you

  3. Hi Marco. Doors to the GOMA cinema open 30 minutes prior to screenings. As we do not screen trailers prior, and its a free film, we suggest you arrive early to allow plenty of time to enter and find a seat. Enjoy, QAGOMA