CPH:FORUM project. Why We Fight

CPH:FORUM project. Why We Fight

“What is unique about the project is director Alain Platel himself who isn’t just a dance choreographer, but also a social worker, and in all his dance projects he has worked with people who are not typical dancers, for example deaf people who use body language in a very special way, or LGBT people,” comments Belgian producer Emmy Oost (Cassette for timescapes) of the 80-minute essay film Why We Fight, budgeted at just over €500k.


The film is co-produced by Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion (Germany) and has €212,330 in place.

In the work, acclaimed choreographer Alain Platel poses the question of why we fight to various artists, who reflect on violence in a special way, the project notes state. Violence is mental and physical. And who better than a dancer to reflect on how mind and body work together? The film shows how violence erupts as a physical reaction when we lack words and ways to express our dissatisfaction. If we cannot find words to express our deepest, biggest and ugliest feelings, the body takes over.


Bérengère, Samir and Russel, three dancers of Platel’s performance Nicht Schlafen, have been dancing a physically violent choreography for almost two years. Bérengère has just become a mother. Samir grew up in a racist France. Russell saw death during the student protests in Congo in 2015. By experiencing violence and inflicting violence on others in the dance piece, they reflect on their own lives and the societies they grew up in. 


Their questions and ideas guide us through the film and are contextualised by different people, each one from his own discipline and expertise, the notes continue. Historian Philipp Blom explains how the industrialisation in the early 20th century sped up the world to such an extent that all relations (man-woman, political, socioeconomic, academic, etc.) were turned upside down. 

People were unable to cope with all those rapid changes and it filled them with fear. As a reaction, they began to rely more on themselves, becoming more egoistic and individualistic, which opened the path to the violence of WWI. Today, our societies are going through similar turbulences because of increasing digitisation. 

“Alain has this skill to show you images and lure you into a deep emotional journey, but in such a way that it really alters your mind as you watch the film,” Oost continues. “It’s like a spell is cast upon you, and the film resembles a kaleidoscope. It zooms in on the very intimate personal lives of the viewer and the characters, and then it zooms out again to provide a picture of our society. This constant movement of in and out is like a spell that sucks you into the film.”


“Honestly, for me it really feels like it is going to be a masterpiece,” Oost claims.