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Bruk Out! A Dancehall Queen Documentary

Cori Wapnowska

Bruk Out! looks deep inside the raw, energetic world of Jamaican Dancehall culture through the eyes of the powerful women at its heart – Dancehall Queens. Often criticized as lewd and aggressively sexual, these daring performers turned Jamaican street dance into a massive global phenomenon.

Bruk Out! follows six of the boldest and bravest Dancehall Queens from around the world—Japan, Italy, America, Poland, Spain, and of course, Jamaica—as they prepare to battle for the biggest trophy (and cash prize) in all of Dancehall. Combining explosive underground dance visuals with emotionally intimate vérité scenes, the film is a never-before-seen window into the life of the Dancehall Queen. Filmmaker Cori Wapnowska spent two years uncovering the struggles the Queens face but rarely show their audience: body issues, poverty, family problems, and domestic abuse.

The dancers bare their skin and their souls to dispel myths about this hyper-sexual dance, explaining why it brings them pure joy, sense of self, and the strength to overcome. With determination, humor and hope, the six resilient dancers converge at the biggest Dancehall Queen competition in the world, where some dreams come to an end, and one woman is crowned the Queen.

“ ‘It is our hope that Bruk Out! does for dancehall what the film Rize did for krumping. We
want the documentary to offer the uninitiated an opportunity to understand without being
judgemental and not just see it as twerking or whatever. We also want to represent the
ladies who enter this competition — give them a voice. It is also our hope that there can be
some level of acceptance,’ said McKenna [Wapnowska].” – Jamaica Observer

“As seen in other documentaries highlighting dance-based subcultures (like 1990’s Paris
Is Burning and 2005’s Rize), the competition narrative arc works well in terms of building
up to a climax. But McKenna’s [Wapnowska’s] film, which was about 60 percent shot
before its Kickstarter campaign launched on October 14, aims to tell the stories of its
leading ladies outside of this competitive framework as well. As McKenna [Wapnowska] tells me, each queen has a different reason for committing herself to dancehall, ‘but the
core of it is just total acceptance.’ ” – Flavor Wire

“In a statement by the filmmakers: Dancehall is happening now. It has incorporated itself so
completely into pop culture, most of us don’t even realize it. Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna,
Miley Cyrus; their dance moves and music borrow from Dancehall roots. We can show you
where it all comes from. We also want to explore how a dance borne from poverty and
oppression has transformed into a vehicle of empowerment for the women who perform.
Women around the world are often subjected to confusing double standards about their
sexuality. Even in progressive nations, women are asked to straddle a fine line when it
comes to their bodies – dress sexy, but not too sexy…be provocative but not aggressive.
In the eyes of many, Dancehall Queens have crossed that line, and can be accused of
objectifying themselves. But what we’ve found in making this movie is quite the opposite.” – Hype Life Magazine


  • 3/27 | 8:00PM
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