A list of films and documentaries relating to music and music censorship

Last update 10 May 2012

Please note that only few of the film titles listed below are about ‘music censorship’ as such. In most cases, music censorship and its effects is not the only topic of the film.

To see videos produced and/or uploaded by Freemuse, see the page ‘Artists on Censorship’

By film title, alphabetical:

Afghan Star  
A Channel 4 Documentary Foundation production in association with Tolo TV
Directed by Havana Marking
With the singers Setara Hussainzada, Rafi Nabaazda, Hameed Sahkizada, Lima Sahar, Daoud Sediqi

In English, Dari and Pashtun with English subtitles. Running time: 88 minutes
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films
Film website:
Afghanistan. 2008

    Read more…
Click to go to the film's website
Click to read about the exiled 'Afghan Star' singer Lima Sahar

An Independent Mind  
About freedom of speech and how far individuals will go in order to preserve it. Interview with reggae singer Tiken Jah Fakoly from Côte d’Ivoire
Directed by Rex Bloomstein

Language: English / English subtitles. 89 minutes
United Kingdom. 2008

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At the end of a perfect day  
About the punk band Quartet in Iran. Young film maker Mina Keshavarz tailed the band for a whole year. The film shows how the band gets into trouble with the Iranian law enforcers
Directed by Mina Keshavarz and Kamran Heidari

Farsi spoken, subtitles in English. 52 minutes, DVD
Iran. 2008

    Read more… (in Danish language)

Back Vocal  (Seday-e Dovom)
About women singers in Tehran who defy Iran’s law forbidding women to perform solo
Directed by Iranian film director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb

Language: Persian. English subtitles. 40 minutes
Iran. 2004

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Beats of Freedom  
Award-winning Polish documentary on rock music behind the Iron Curtain, and the story of how Polish rock’n’roll helped bring down the communist regime. Included are extraordinary secret police reports on hippies and punks.
Directed by Leszek Gnoinski and Wojciech Slota

Language: Mainly English. 73 minutes
Poland. 2010

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    Trailer on YouTube
Click to read more about Beats of Freedom

Breaking the Silence – Music in Afghanistan
Directed by Simon Broughton
Produced by Felmay

Colour. In English. Available on DVD. 60 minutes
Afghanistan and UK. 2002

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¡Cuba RebelióN!
Directed by Alessio Cuomo & Sander de Nooij
Produced by Coldsun Productions VOF & Column Film

Language: Spanish with English subtitles. 53 minutes
The Netherlands and Cuba. 2008

    Read more…
Cleick here to read more about the film

Democracy in Dakar
Documentary film about hip-hop youth and politics in Dakar, Senegal
Directed by Magee McIlvaine, Chris Moore and Ben Herson
Produced by Nomadic Wax and Sol Productions

Language: Wolof and French with English subtitles. App. 60 minutes
Senegal. 2008

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Click to read more about the film

Fangafrika – Voice of the Voiceless
The first documentary film about West African hip-hop
Produced by Staycalm! Productions

Language: French with English subtitles. 52 minutes
Burkina Faso and France. 2007

    Read more…
Click to open pdf document about the film

The story of the dance film ‘Footloose’ follows the young dance maniac Ren McCormack, a boy who comes to a small town where loud music and dancing have been banned.
The original film from 1984 was remade in 2011 with the same title.
Directed by Craig Brewer (2011-version)

USA. 1984 and 2011

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    View trailer
Click to read more

Forbidden Future (Forbudt framtid)
Documentary which features the Iranian death metal band Scourge and their lead–singer Ali. “Behind closed doors in Teheran young Iranian artists express themselves through music, painting and sports – thereby risking public floggings and even a death sentence.”
Directed by Gard A. Andreassen
Won the ECU 2008 for ‘Best European Feature Documentary’

Colour. Digibeta. English subtitles. 52 minutes
Iran and Norway. 2007

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    View trailer
View trailer

Half Moon (Niwemang)
Directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Produced as a joint production of Iran, Iraq, Austria, and France by MijFilm

Colour. 35 mm. Language: Kurdish and Farsi. 114 minutes
Iran. 2006

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Heavy Metal in Baghdad
Feature length documentary about Iraq’s only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, who are in exile in Turkey
Directed and produced by Eddy Moretti and Suroosh Alvi
Produced by Monica Hampton

HDCAM. Colour. Language: English and Arabic. 84 minutes
Iraq. 2007

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Click to read more about the film

I Love Hip Hop in Morocco
Documentary about a group of hip hop artists sharing a dream: To organise a professional concert. Unfortunately resistance is strong in their society and resources scare. With the help of an American filmmaker, they raised funding and created the first Hip Hop festival in Morocco.
Co-Directed by Jennifer Needleman & Joshua Asen

Language: Arabic, French & English with English, French & Spanish subtitles
Morocco and USA. 2008

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In the name of God (Khuda Kay Liye)
Award-winning feature film, highest grossing film of Pakistan of all time. About two musical brothers of which one decides to follow a fundamentalist cleric who says music is forbidden according to Islam.
Directed and written by Shoaib Mansoor

Colour. Language: Urdu and English
Pakistan. 2007

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Knowledge is the Beginning
About The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which is banned from performing in the countries from which most of its musicians come
Directed by Paul Smaczny

Language: English. 90 minutes
Germany and Palestine. 2005

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Nobody Knows About the Persian Cats
(Kasi az gorbehaye irani khabar nadareh)
About music censorship in Iran, featuring the underground rock band Mirza, the rapper Hichkas, as well as other musicians of varying styles from Persian pop and folk to heavy metal, and women who are banned in Iran from public solo singing.
Directed by Bahman Ghobadi

Language: Persian with English subtitles. 106 minutes
Iran and France. 2009

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Click to read more

Off Beat  (Saz-e Mokhalef)
About Tehran’s underground music bands
Directed by Iranian film director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb

45 minutes
Iran. 2004

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Click to open pdf with more information

Passion (Bab el Makam)
Directed by Syrian film director Mohamad Malas
Produced by Ahmed Baha Eddine Attia and Fabienne Servan-Schreiber
The film won the Jury Prize at the fifth Marrakech International Film Festival in 2005

Distributor: Production Cinétévé, Paris, France. 98 minutes
Syria. 2005

Click to read more

Shut Up & Sing
Featuring the American country group Dixie Chicks
Directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
A Cabin Creek Films documentary

93 minutes
USA. 2006


Read more about the film

Sing your song
Documentary film about the obstacles and constraints the singer Majid and his band face as a result of the actions of extremist Islamist groups and the unappreciative attitude of local officials. They all consider art and singing a sin and forbidden.

Directed by Omar Falah

15 minutes
Iraq. 2011


Sounds of Silence Underground Music in Tehran
Directed and produced by Amir Hamz and Mark Lazarz

97 minutes
Iran. 2006


Stopping the Music
Directed by Douglas Mitchell
Produced by Michael Drewett

54 minutes
South Africa. 2002


Strange Birds in Paradise - music can rise above tyranny
A documentary which explains the significance of music in West Papua's independence struggle over the past 40 years.
Directed by Charlie Hill-Smith
Produced by The House of Red Monkey, Australia

75 minutes.
West Papua. 2009

Click to go to

Sufi Soul
'The Mystic Music Of Islam' — a documentary produced for British Channel 4. The Sufi voice is increasingly under challenge within the Muslim world and beyond...
Directed by Simon Broughton

48 minutes
Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco. 2005

Click to read more

The Flute Player  – a story of hope, healing, and the will to survive
Featuring Arn Chorn-Pond
Produced by Jocelyn Glatzer and Over The Moon Productions
Directed by Jocelyn Glatzer

57 minutes
Cambodia and USA. 2003


The Miscreants 
Directed by George Gittoes
A Gittoes & Dalton Production

90 minutes
Pakistan and Australia. 2009


Click to read more about the film

The Rebel  (Rebelle)
About the Algerian singer Lounès Matoub who was assassinated in 1998
Directed by Mokrane Hammar

70 minutes
Algeria. 2005


The Rock Star and The Mullahs 
Documentary film featuring the Pakistani rock musician Salman Ahmad
Produced by Angus Macqueen
Directed by Ruhi Hamid
A PBS Wide Angle documentary

57 minutes
Pakistan and UK. 2003


Click to read more at WideAngle's website

The Satanic Angels (Malaekat Al-Shaytan)
Feature film about a Moroccan heavy metal band arrested for "shaking the foundations of Islam". The script is based on a real case
Written and produced by Ahmed Boulane
International sales: Redfern Film, London

Arabic and French dialogue. 86 minutes
Morocco. 2007


Click to read review

The Singing Revolution 
Directed by James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty
A Mountain View Productions documentary

96 minutes
Estonia and USA. 2007


Click to read more

Tibet in Song 
Directed by Ngawang Choephel
Guge Productions documentary

86 minutes
Tibet and USA. 2009


Click to read more

Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love 
Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi

35 mm. In English, Arabic, French, and Wolof with English subtitles. 102 minutes
Senegal and USA. 2009

Click on photo to read more


To see videos produced and/or uploaded by Freemuse, see the page 'Artists on Censorship'

Go to top
Read more:

Iraq: Documentary film about a musician's struggle to keep music alive
Produced in Iraq in 2011, the 15-minutes documentary 'Sing your song' details the obstacles a musician and his band face because of pressure from extremist Islamist groups
USA: 'Footloose' - dance film about a town where rock music is banned
The story of ‘Footloose’ follows the young dance maniac Ren McCormack, a boy who comes to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned
China / Tibet: Music film about cultural exploitation and resistance
'Tibet in Song' is a tale of cultural exploitation and resistance, which includes the director's own imprisonment for recording the very songs at the centre of the film
Senegal: Popular singer boycotted and threatened by religous groups
A documentary film shows the controversy over Youssou N’Dour’s 2004-album 'Egypt' which became subject of a boycott because of its mix of music and Islam
Iran: Film about Iranian music censorship awarded, musicians exiled
The Iranian film ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’ was awarded at Cannes Film Festival. But two of the musicians which it features now must go in exile
Iran: Film about music censorship shown on Cannes Film Festival
Kurdish-Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi launches a two-hour film about music censorship in Iran which features banned musicians and singers
Pakistan: 'The Miscreants' - The popular culture of war in Pakistan
Documentary and fiction is mixed in this film by Australian director George Gittoes who based himself in Peshawar for six months to talk to religious leaders of the region
Burma / China / Cote d'Ivoire: 'An Independent Mind'
Tiken Jah Fakoly, who received the Freemuse Award 2008, is one of the main characters in a new documentary film, 'An Independent Mind' about freedom of speech
Afghanistan: Short video about music and 'community censorship'
In a short documentary video about music and 'community censorship' in Afghanistan, the 19-year-old Afghan singer Mariam says she gets verbal abuse all the time
Cuba/Netherlands: ¡Cuba RebelióN!
A documentary film about the punk-rock and metal musicians rebelling against the bureaucracy and imposed conformity of the Castro regime
Nigeria: Actor jailed for releasing an uncensored music video
The actor Adam A. Zango was imprisoned for producing and releasing an uncensored hip-hop video. The incident was a result of restrictions within the kannywood film industry
Afghanistan / UK: Film festival celebrates banned music
A film festival in Edingburgh entitled 'Reel Afghanistan' celebrates the Afghan art form which was banned by the Taliban: music
Iraq: Film about the heavy metal band Acrassicauda
The documentary film 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad' documents how Iraq’s only heavy metal band, Acrassicauda, had to escape the country and is now literally a band on the run
Estonia: Banned choral singing became a Singing Revolution
The documentary film 'The Singing Revolution' shows how choral music played an imporant role in the small Baltic country's struggle against its occupation
Pakistan: Religious music prohibition discussed in popular movie
Feature film about a musician who gets inspired by a cleric to give up music for religious reasons became Pakistan's highest grossing movie of all time
Iran: 'Half Moon' - film about women's right to sing
'Half Moon' is a prize-winning feature film which talks of women's right to perform in public, and to participate in the artistic development of a land
USA: Documentary film about Dixie Chicks: 'Shut up & Sing'
A documentary film about the country trio Dixie Chicks and the three years of hysteria that followed after they criticized president George W. Bush at a concert in London in 2003
Iran: World premiere of film about music censorship in Iran
Documentary film on governmental censorship of music in Iran had its world premiere in New York in 2006: ‘Sounds of Silence – Underground Music in Tehran’
Syria: Music censorship film wins award
Film director Mohamad Malas' movie 'Bab El Makam' tells the story of a young woman, who struggles against a society which does not accept her love for singing
Summer school with focus on cinema and human rights
Summer school in Italy: How can films be used as an instrument for enhancing human rights awareness?