In 2001, director Ken Fero released Injustice, a documentary examining the killings of Black people in police custody in the UK. Ten years in the making, Ultraviolence is Fero’s emphatic and essential follow-up. Presented as a visual letter to his son, Ultraviolence examines UK police violence and its resistance in a radical documentary style.

Fero states: “Memory is fragile, and it needs to be spoken to be kept alive.” His film is an attempt to do exactly that. He presents the lives and deaths of many individuals killed by UK police. Some of this footage is his own, but much of it is Adam Curtis-esque archive imagery. Fero also uses clips of real human death, and it must always be asked whether sharing these images is more harmful than productive. Here, Fero’s aim is to (emotionally) educate those who are ignorant of these deaths, and for this purpose it is breathtakingly effective. Ultraviolence will not be for everyone though, and there is definite potential for it to be traumatising for some viewers.

With anger and frustration, Fero references Britain’s racist colonial history, war-making, and abuses of power. He also documents the protests and the ‘violent struggle’ that many have engaged in as a response. His voiceover is delivered calmly, but the message is a desperate one: a call for socio-political restructuring and revolution.

Fero also makes personal reflections on visuality, politics and film. Through this analysis, he explores the way visual media can be used to manipulate truth. In doing so, he artfully and self-reflexively highlights the irony of his own act of filmmaking.

Ultraviolence is a piece of evidence, an accusation, and a call for the remembrance of those killed by untouchable police. The victims include Christopher Alder, Paul Coker, Brian Douglas, Jean Charles de Menezes, Roger Sylvester, Harry Stanley, Nuur Saeed, and many more. A necessary film – that carries a serious content warning.




WRITER: Tariq Mehmood

SYNOPSIS: Activist and director Ken Fero examines Britain’s long and sinister history of police brutality, detailing the deaths of many people in police custody, most of whom are people of colour, and the struggle for truth that those left behind are engaged in.