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

Last updated on 26 March 2015


Please note that only few of the film titles listed below are about ‘music censorship’ as the only topic. In numerous cases, coverage and story telling about music censorship and its effects is done in context with related issues.

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
<a target=”new” href=””>Zeitgeist Films
Film website:
<a target=”new” href=””>
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
Read more…



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
Read more…



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
Read more…

Trailer on YouTube

  Click to read more about Beats of Freedom



Breaking the Silence – Music in Afghanistan
Directed by Simon Broughton
Produced by
<atarget=”new” href=””>Felmay

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



¡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
Read more…
  Click to read more about the film



Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
Documentary film about music censorship in Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s as the war in Vietnam threatened Cambodia’s borders, and a new music scene emerged in Cambodia that took Western rock and roll and stood it on its head – creating a sound like no other.
Directed by John Pirozzi
Produced by Argot Pictures

Cambodia. 2015
Read more…
  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
Read more…

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
Read more…

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
Read more…



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
Read more…
  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
Read more…



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
Read more…



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 SmacznyLanguage: English. 90 minutes
Germany and Palestine. 2005

Read more…




Mahsa: Cantata for a forbidden voice in four movements
In a country where public performances by women are forbidden, the internationally acclaimed Iranian vocalist Mahsa Vahdat struggles to make her voice heard. She is an optimist, and remains hopeful that one day things will change.
Directed by Kiarash AnvariLanguage: English and Persian. English subtitles. 16 minutes
Iran. 2013

Read more…




Morning Fears, Night Chants
Documentary film about Syrian woman who writes and sings protest songs in secret, in the hope that they will encourage others to start thinking for themselves, and to believe in a better tomorrow with more freedom.
Directed by Salma Aldairy and Roula Ladqani Language: Arabic and English. English subtitles. 37 minutes
Syria. 2012

Read more…




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
Read more…
  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
Read more…
  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

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
<atarget="new" href="">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
<atarget="new" href="">Mountain View Productions documentary
96 minutes
Estonia and USA. 2007


  Click to read more



Tibet in Song 
Directed by Ngawang Choephel

<atarget="new" href="">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'




Related articles, stories and links:

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?