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'."

PRO Credits


DirectorAli Kurr
ProducerBen Pengilly
Production CompanyPartizan Darkroom
Executive ProducerMayling Wong
1st ADAfzal Robbani
Director of PhotographyChristopher Aoun Bvk
Focus PullerKarl Hui
2nd ACOwen Whitehead
GafferNoah Furrer
Art DirectorAfra Zamara
WardrobeKusi Kubi
HairTomi Roppongi
Make-upTomomi Shibusawa
EditorJo Lewandowska
Editing companyCut+Run
ColouristAlex Gregory
Grading companyThe Mill
Lead actorAmp; Shante Simpson
Lead actorShola Riley
Director's RepresentationClaire Stubbs @ Mouthpiece
LabelDirty Hit
Other creditsCreative 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

Related Content


FRIEND sign Ali Kurr and Matilda Finn

London-based production company FRIEND have signed up-and-coming directors Alessandra (or Ali) Kurr and Matilda Finn to their music video directors' roster.

Promo News - 16th Sept 2016


Rina Sawayama 'Bad Friend' by Ali Kurr

Rina Sawayama and Ali Kurr's previous videos, for STFU! and XS have shown an artist capable of taking on vibrant, madcap personas. The video for Bad Friend is another case entirely, and …

Rob Ulitski - 1st June 2020

Latest News