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Rina Sawayama 'STFU!' by Ali Kurr - now signed to Darkroom

Promonews - 26th Nov 2019

Ali Kurr's new video for Rina Sawayama tackles a serious subject with verve, wit and lots of visual style - and it's her first video as a director at Darkroom, Partizan's content and music video division.

The concept behind Sawayama's hard rock-pop banger STFU! derives from her own experiences, her inner angst about micro-insults and all too familiar stereotypes as a Japanese woman brought up in the West. The film begins with a dialogue - written by Sawayama and scriptwriter Isobel Rogers - between Rina and her frustratingly ignorant date, in an upmarket Japanese restaurant, who subjects her to casually offensive, insensitive and stereotypical comments about her race, while apparently thinking he is being thoughtful. 

Eventually, enough is enough. Rina's internal rage explodes, in surprising ways. Her noughties nu-metal is slickly visualized in empowered versions of the stereotypes discussed by her despicable date. Catharsis is achieved. 

The video for STFU!, Kurr's first at Darkroom, follows promos made for Loyle Carner, Poppy Ajudha and Connie Constance. This year she has also directed spots for BBC, Veet and British Vogue.


"STFU! is a song about releasing the RAGE against micro-aggressions. As a Japanese girl growing up in the West I dealt with an array of aggressors ranging from sexual stereotypes, comparisons with Lucy Liu and Cho Chang, to having to be the unofficial PR person and tourist board to Tokyo. It was a truly therapeutic experience to condense all the things that people have said to me over the years into a situation that highlights how ridiculous these comments are when said all in one go in a context of flattery.”


"We knew we wanted to write something honest and funny in the script in order to avoid being moralistic. Asking questions like ‘where are you from?’ can come from a place of kindness but also feel invasive; and in this case the date isn’t interested in listening for answers. It was important to cast someone smart and funny enough to play with these tensions carefully and make the experience cathartic for Rina.”


“When I came on to STFU!, [Partizan director] Rianne White and Rina had already conceived such an incredible creative vision that it was a dream to jump on board. What I loved most about the concept is how it fucks with your conceptions of what a pop video is going to give you. You've got these sleek visuals mashed up with comic-horror moments that are juxtaposed with incredible dancing that is so powerful and commanding even the steadicam op was being pushed off set!

“Complementing the sonic nods to Noughties nu-metal are the visuals that pay homage to The Ring, Kill Bill and the iconic Agent Provocateur ads with Dita Von Teese (She's Lost Control Again). We're challenging the idea of lithe bodies passively being digested by the viewer by instead having an incredible protagonist who's calling the presentation of women in Pop into question. It's entertaining as well as defiant, which makes the film this incredible hybrid that Rina calls ‘futurist-pop'."

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Promonews - 26th Nov 2019


  • Director's notes
  • Narrative
  • Performance
  • Signing
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Ali Kurr
Ben Pengilly
Production Company
Executive Producer
Mayling Wong
1st AD
Afzal Robbani


Director of Photography
Christopher Aoun Bvk
Focus Puller
Karl Hui
2nd AC
Owen Whitehead


Noah Furrer


Art Director
Afra Zamara


Tomi Roppongi
Tomomi Shibusawa
Kusi Kubi


Lead actor
Amp; Shante Simpson
Lead actor
Shola Riley


Jo Lewandowska
Editing company


Alex Gregory
Colour grade company
The Mill


Director's Representation


Dirty Hit

Other credits

Creative Director

Rianne White

Script Writer

Isobel Rogers

Steadicam Op

Sebastien Jolly

Sound Design & Mix By Joe Munday Courtesy Of Rhythm & Sync

For Everyone Who Has Experienced Microagressions!!!

Promonews - 26th Nov 2019

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