Sensible Toughness

Related event
Contributors
Share

This April, Antwerp’s DESINGEL gives a tribute to hip-hop and its cultural and musical impact on society and aesthetics with the Blueprint Festival. One of its events is a screening of the new movie by Charlotte De Cort, Ungodly. We sat down with her and the creative consultant for the movie, dancer Sarah Bekambo, to learn more about this unique project. 

Could you tell us about your movie Ungodly, coming next month to DESINGEL?

Charlotte: It all started when Shamisa Debroey, the curator of Blueprint, saw my documentary Bgirl Badly. She asked me if I could do a film for this event. When I came to DESINGEL, I was immediately struck by its fascinating architecture, and having been there many times I had the impression that it was always getting bigger, revealing its new secrets each time. I knew then that I’d film it there. I also had a story in mind about a dancer who’s dealing with inner demons, anxiety and fear of failure. This movie is an intimate yet confronting mind trip where the main character, through his participation in hip-hop battles, tackles his personal struggles.

This movie is an intimate yet confronting mind trip

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c2069e8c12e749c42b0_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden1.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c20af6ac60eb0efb714_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden2.webp"/>

Dance seems to be a recurring theme in your films. What draws you to it? And how does this connect to hip-hop culture? 

C: I’ve always had a very intimate relationship with the genre. Starting at a young age I did hip hop for 10 years; however, I’ve always been too shy to participate in battles. Dancing and listening to hip hop helped me to discover my own body and sensitivity, and introduced me to concepts of self-actualisation and artistic courage. A friend of mine who was working in Zinnema in Brussels had also introduced me to the hip-hop community. At the time I was photographing a lot, and without even being a part of the community I loved, observed and documented their work, which helped me develop my own aesthetics.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c20523ba6ffab302263_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden7.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c203114e6aa72dd2fba_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden6.webp"/>

Your movies are both intimate and celebratory, how do you marry those two seemingly distant terms in this production?

C: Sometimes I see myself as a kind of emotional scientist: I observe people around me and try to see them as mirrors of my emotions. While filming, I want to address and capture senses, to translate the inner state of being to the image. I also think that honesty is a driving force in my filmmaking. We’re very used to enchanting storytelling, so in this respect, no movie genre is entirely honest. It’s important to make conscious decisions, both aesthetically and artistically speaking. While working on this film, crucial help came from our stylist and designer Oemer Khan: during the early stage of production, we discovered we were both attracted to the idea of showing inner demons. His alert attention to detail helped me to shape my character. His style is both sensitive and confronting, and in relation to all the cultures he’s collaborating with, it adds to the credibility of the narrative.

Sometimes I see myself as a kind of emotional scientist

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c20fb271f1e25256416_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden11.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c21cdf52a1e6bb9e2ba_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden13.webp"/>

During the festival, you’re also going to give a talk about the female gaze in hip-hop. How did that influence your film, and what’s your relationship with the term?  

C: I want to give screentime to vulnerability. Just because my character is a tough dancer it doesn’t mean he can’t have insecurities. This is recognisable for many people and my goal is to create a platform to discover one’s own sensitivity. To me, the hip-hop genre is revealing more and more of its softness.

Sarah: In hip hop, it seems like if you don’t have this masculine energy you will not be perceived as  ‘hip hop enough’ but rather a try-hard. If I could name all the dancers I know within the hip-hop community that are female, I couldn’t name one that’s validated and doesn’t have this dominant, assertive energy. Of course, you can portray a certain vulnerability, but in the end, it’s about toughness.

I want to give screentime to vulnerability

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c2252a3f3437996271d_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden16.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64187841d9c5a7cb29719e16_08new.webp"/>

What is your relationship with your audience? Since you’re not a part of the community,  you take a certain artistic risk, how do you cope with that?

C: It’s a very experimental movie. I hope to reach people similar to me, who live life in an emotional way. My goal is to confront people with their own struggles, to say it’s OK to have your demons or insecurities - you’re not alone in that. It’s not my point to portray the community in a  realistic way, but rather to convey the inner state of being that's set in the arena of hip hop. It’s also important to stay critical and ask questions. In that respect, Sarah was of great help.

S: To me, part of this confrontation was on set. Working with people from the community, seeing their reactions and how they relate to the storyline. Our point from the beginning was not to educate anyone but rather to expose - to learn something without feeling you’re being taught.

<img class="editorial-image-50-left" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c21f4a10bb110cc49da_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden19.webp"/>

<img class="editorial-image-50-right" src="https://cdn.prod.website-files.com/61eebcc683107b99137f4423/64105c21aaeab1e68c96e9df_Different%20Class%20Charlotte%20De%20Cort%20(c)%20Thor%20Salden21.webp"/>

_______________________________________________________________

@charlotte.decort

@sarah_bekambo

@oemerkhan

Different Class works with the interest of their community at heart.
Our work’s purpose is to foster a solid network for independent artists, those who love them, and those who want to support them. Become a member to contribute to the local Belgian art scene.
THE BASICS OR THE FULL EXPERIENCE

Our membership plans

devoted
The dedicated package for 1 month
10,95/month
Access to all events
Discounts in our shop and in other stores
Our magazine every 2 months
standard
The basics for 1 year
7,95/month
total of 95,4 billed once a year
Access to all events
Discounts in our shop and in other stores
devoted
The full experience for 1 year
8,95/month
total of 107,4 billed once a year
Access to all events
Discounts in our shop and in other stores
Our magazine every 2 months
A Different Class totebag
Are you a student? You're in luck, we offer the perks of our devoted membership at a reduced price!  
All prices are in Euro (€), tax included — renews automatically, cancel anytime
Welcome

Name Member