Shy Radicals

UK 2020, 22 mins
Director: Tom Dream

With intro and discussion

A portrait of artist and activist Hamja Ahsan, commander-in-chief of the introvert resistance.

Shy Radicals is a portrait of award-winning artist, activist and author Hamja Ahsan, and the story behind his remarkable book and satirical manifesto Shy Radicals, which calls for all shy, quiet, and introverted people to unify and overthrow Extrovert-Supremacy.

In his book, Hamja Ahsan has not simply created an artwork, he has created a world that blurs the boundaries between creator and creation, between real life and the life of the imagination, between reality and an imagined fiction in which he is a leading character. The documentary follows Hamja as he deals with the trauma and despair of his brother’s extradition case, whilst traveling the world inspiring and educating others through creativity and activism.

Hamja Ahsan’s book Shy Radicals: Antisystemic Politics of the Militant Introvert is published and distributed by Book Works.

Hamja Ahsan is an artist, writer, activist and curator based in London and Maastricht. He was awarded the Grand Prize at Ljubljana Biennial 2019 for the art work Aspergistan Referendum based on the Shy Radicals project. He is founder and co-curator of the DIY Cultures festival of creative activism, zines and independent publishing since 2013. He was shortlisted for the Liberty human rights award for Free Talha Ahsan campaign on extradition and detention without trial under the War on Terror. His recent writing was anthologised in No Colour Bar: Black Art in Action 1960-1990. He has presented art projects at PS1 MOMA New York Art book week, Tate Modern, Gwangju Biennale, Shaanakht festival Pakistan and and CCA Warsaw Poland. His practice encompasses all media: conceptual writing, building archives, performance, video, sound and making zines. He is on the editorial board of the Radical Mental Health magazine Asylum.


Hamja will be in conversation with Daniel Oliver, a dyspraxic performance artist and academic. He has been making up calamitous participatory performance art worlds across the UK and overseas since 2003. Performances include Chiperalataartparty, which explores dyspraxic time-travel and a post-apocalyptic neurodivergent (dys)utopia; and Dadderrs, a collaboration with his wife, choreographer Frauke Requardt, that focusses on ADHD, dyspraxia, marriage, and parenting. He has recently edited and published a book on his practice called Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s Dyspraxic Adventures in Contemporary Participatory Performance, published by the Live Art Development Agency.

His academic research is focussed on contemporary performance and live art, audience participation, neurodiversity, and awkwardness.


Director: Tom Dream
Produced by: Black Dog Films
Funded by the: BFI Doc Society, National Lottery Fund
Producer: Holly Wolfers
Executive Producers: Martin Roker, Lisa-Marie Russo
Editor: Laura Cairney-Keize
Director of Photography: Jack Maddison
Production Designer: Jade Williams
Sound: Dean Hewitson
Music: Art School Girlfriend

Principal Cast Hamja Ahsan

UK 2020
22 mins

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Sun 5 Mar 14:00

I Didn’t See You There + pre-recorded Q&A
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FLARE: We Have Always Been Here!
Film curator Tara Brown leads an in-depth panel discussion about the intersections of queerness, disability and film. Sat 18 Mar 16:30

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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