DARE – How these young creatives found the courage to look in a new direction.

LEARNING HUB
TRAILER

PUBLISHED
April 22, 2024

WORDS BY
KRISTAL TROTTER

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In May 2021, director Silvia Tonelli joined NoOx Worldwide founders and musical artists Sek and F.U.L.A. for their trip in Senegal. Their mission? To network their way through the Senegalese music industry and try to create opportunities in just 10 days. Tonelli’s task? To document it all. DARE follows this group of Italians as they tag-team between French, English and Wolof, and travel restlessly to show what this young generation is made of.

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When I first saw DARE, a grin appeared on my face within minutes of the opening sequence. I knew it was going to be good. This is Silvia Tonelli‘s first documentary, a labor of love and commitment that took her 3 years to make. The cinematography, the editing and the storytelling are wonderful, as expected. No small feat for a (very) independent production. She embodies what this documentary represents, which is about a lot of things, but it’s about betting on yourself, first and foremost. What does it take for our stories to be told? What does it mean to be able to lean into your talents and allow yourself to do work that matters? It takes courage, and it definitely takes a village. Every person in this documentary pushed away barriers and preconceptions to help bring this project to life. It all feels young and raw and gifted. And it is. And they are. A village, indeed. As a filmmaker she pushed herself to do this documentary because she needed to hear stories like these, to see someone like NoOx who just acts, overcoming any fear, to see someone like Sek who puts himself on the line by showing his vulnerability, and to see F.U.L.A., an artist who’s always in search of emotions. Silvia wanted to represent life stories that don’t always have a space to be shared, and it took her to Senegal.

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Why activate a cultural bridge between Italy and Senegal? These protagonists all have their own story to tell, their own reasons to why connecting these two cultures is so important. Silvia Nocentini, best known as NoOx, is the person behind NoOx Worldwide, a business that challenges the Italian music industry by centering underrepresented communities via way of inclusion and far from stereotypes. There’s a wave of Italian talent that’s not represented and not making it to the Italian music charts, and NoOx wants to fix that. Prompted by an invitation from the director of the Dakar Music Expo, she invested in this trip to Senegal, and if you know NoOx, you know the quickness with which this energetic 29-year-old from Genoa does what she sets her mind to. Her mindset is simple “Why wait for someone else to do it, when I can do it?” We often talk about the lack of opportunities for this young generation of Italians, funneled into dreamless pursuits. NoOx understands that creating our own opportunities is our best bet, and cultural bridges may be the key to our success.

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“I’d like to feel at home when I’m in Italy. At times I feel there’s a detachment, so little empathy towards others. I feel more at home since having this project.”

-NoOx

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Opportunities come in many shapes and forms, and for musical artist Sek, seeing his loved-ones in Senegal were his opportunity to embrace them. Family that he hasn’t seen in more than a decade, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, become a central component of his journey, a sign even, as if to remind him of where he’s also from, that he’s in the right place at the right time. Sek grew up in Italy since he was an infant, and considers himself Italian, but he’s rediscovering his West African roots as an adult, and considers himself Senegalese even more. He definitely carries the emotion of this documentary, palpable at his every interaction with childhood memories. I wonder how these 10 days have influenced his future music. If his subsequent hiatus from the Italian rap scene is any indication, I’m guessing a lot.

Singer-songwriter F.U.L.A. is a modern day griot. He’s introduced to the audience sitting serene on a motorcycle, surrounded by lush green vegetation, humming the famous song by Rino Gaetano ‘Gianna’ and holding a small white and brown spotted dog by the leash. He comments amusingly on how questi stronzi di falchi – the hawks flying over him – eat their prey then drop the bones on the roof of his room. He says he’s part of a European diaspora that is awakening and is starting to show their multiculturalism to the world. As he sees it, it’s all slowly making sense. His breakthrough hit ‘Maldafrica‘ speaks about how he loves Italy but has nostalgia of Africa. Who knows if his brief stint of time living in Senegal has filled that void in his heart.

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“To me belonging means to feel a part of something, to feel represented by something, to not be alone. To be part of something that you are also proud of. ”

-Sek

Along the way, the team meets Corinna Fiora, an Italian singer who blends cultures through music. Born in Egypt and brought up in Europe, she’s the lead vocalist of Senegal based band I-Science, named after a Wolof expression. Her lyrics are a harmonic mix of different languages – English, Wolof, Italian – and the message in her songs are of positivity, of freedom, and of collective reinvention thanks to our different experiences and identities. She shares her hopes and dreams with Silvia while she cooks pasta al tonno, the dish – as she put it – of all the Italians who live away from their mother. She’s not wrong.

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The story behind NoOx Worldwide! Featuring creative director and music producer Yves The Male. Watch this video!

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