Rebels with a Cause 

A feature documentary about the hopes, rebellions, and repression of the 1960s as told by members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).

  110 minutes



"It isn't the rebels 
 who cause the troubles of the world,
  it's the troubles
  that cause the rebels."

                     -- Carl Oglesby, SDS

Rebels with a Cause chronicles the movements for social change of the Sixties that began with the civil rights movement and culminated with the angry protests against the US war in Vietnam. Told through the eyes of SDS members, the film is about far more than SDS. It’s about the values, motivations, and actions of a generation that lost its innocence but gained a sense of power and purpose. It’s about a decade that changed America.

Students for a Democratic Society, the largest and most influential student organization of the ‘60s, was a uniquely American movement that grew and evolved in response to the times.  At its peak in 1968, SDS had over 100,000 members and 400 chapters — but in 1960 there were just a few dozen members, inspired by the civil rights movement and initially concerned with equality, economic justice, peace, and participatory democracy. Then came the war in Vietnam, and SDS grew rapidly as young people protested the destruction being wrought by the US government and military.  Although most activity focused on the war, SDS members were also involved in organizing in local communities around economic and social issues, were early activists in the women’s movement, and helped start many of the ‘counter-institutions’ that flourished in that period and since.  As the war continued to escalate, polite protest turned into stronger and more determined resistance — and rage and frustration increased all across the country.  At the same time, the government, led by the FBI, mounted a concerted effort to destroy SDS and the antiwar, civil rights, and women’s movements. SDS died in 1970, but the movement — and the spirit of SDS — lived on.

REBELS WITH A CAUSE features interviews with 28 SDS activists, including Jane Adams, Bill Ayers, Carolyn Craven, Carl Davidson, Bernardine Dohrn, Alice Embree, Dick Flacks, Todd Gitlin, Carol Glassman, Juan Gonzalez, Alan Haber, Casey Hayden, Tom Hayden, Mark Kleiman, Sue Eanet Klonsky, Sharon Jeffrey Lehrer, Steve Max, Jeff Shero Nightbyrd, Carl Oglesby, Robert Pardun, Judy Schiffer Perez, Bob Ross, Vivian Leburg Rothstein, Mike Spiegel, Elizabeth Stanley, Marilyn Salzman Webb, Cathy Wilkerson, and Junius Williams.

Rebels with a Cause is not only for those who lived through the Sixties — but even more for those who didn’t and are curious about that tumultuous decade.

Produced, directed, and edited by Helen Garvy
Associate producer:  Robert Pardun
Cinematographer:  Emiko Omori
A Shire Films production

110 minutes

How to Order Rebels
VHS - DVD - Film


  Letter from the Director

Biographies: people in
"Rebels with a Cause"

Reviews of
"Rebels with a Cause"

Views of the Women's Movement

"Rebels with a Cause"

Port Huron Statement
Students for a Democratic Society, 1962

 Books About SDS

Antiwar Speeches

from marches on Washington to end the war in Vietnam
are still relevant to building a movement today
Paul Potter, April 1965    Carl Oglesby, November 1965


"Rebels with a Cause"
based on the film with much new material added.
260 pages, photos and illustrations throughout. $18

"Prairie Radical"
A grass-roots history of SDS and the movement as seen by an active participant.
376 pages, illustrated. $15


See also Shire Press and Films