Fighting Against Himself: A French B-Boy’s Courageous Battle Against Crohn’s Disease
The inspirational story of a young man escaping the world through performance.
A film by Samuel Sebillaut and Pauline Vergne, in partnership with Prime & Fire Selects, Talenthouse and BFI Future Film; Je Danse Contre Moi Meme (I Dance Against Myself) takes a look at the inspirational story of a young and talented breakdancer with an incurable disease.
The focus of the film is Karim “Reemcat" Naar, a 21 year old who finds escapism through the medium of dance. Despite many recommendations from the doctors, he continues to dance as he feels like it's the only thing that allows him to get back in touch with himself.
Karim wants to forget about his medical condition, and it is through the transformative power of breakdance that he is able to do this.
The film looks at the driving forces behind Karim's decision to enter the world of street dance, and the ways in which his illness have influenced the unique style he is becoming known for. Despite his numerous breakdancing battle victories, this courageous young man knows that the biggest test he faces is the one against his own body.
This film was funded as part of Prime & Fire Selects; an annual competition that awards up and coming documentary filmmakers with the production budget and support to create short films within the realms of action and specialist sport - in partnership with Factory Media, Talenthouse and the BFI.
We spoke to Samuel Sebillaut and Pauline Vergne about their experiences, what motivated them to make the film, and what they learned about life.
Sam : I've always been a creative individual and I’ve always had a passion for graphic designs, music, and movies. I started making music at the age of 13, I was part of a band but music didn't satisfy me enough. I got into artistic photography, and started taking pictures of bands professionally. I realised I knew enough about lighting, exposure, and angles to start making films.
Pauline : It's pretty funny because Sam and I met three years ago, and our life stories were very similar. I was a bassist during my younger years, and played a lot of concerts. I started to make videos, and became attracted to the idea that simple videos can become a great communication tool. When I met Sam on the set of a short sci-fi movie, we decided to join our skills together.
Sam : Karim is a young man that I met a few years ago. He asked me to take some photos of him. At the time he was just starting out as a b-boy but he already had some very good skills. Sometime later, he called me saying : "Hey Sam, do you remember me? I’d like to make a video with you".
Pauline : With Karim, everything was already written : the career, the disease, the fight... we had all the ingredients to make a really interesting film.
Sam : Due to the fact that nobody apart from his family knew that he was sick, maybe he saw it as an opportunity to tell the world in an artistic way.
Sam : I have a lot of heroes - the director of Donnie Darko, the visual effects creator on Interstellar, the writer of Predestination, and the DOP on Hannibal (the series).
Pauline : I can hate a movie, but I can love its music or its VFX. I would say that the DOP and writer of House Of Cards are pretty talented. I really admire their approach.
Sam: I admire the people that make me dream. I would love to have as much skill as these people, and i'm working on it but I would probably need eight or nine lives to make it happen.
Pauline: I loved the way they did the new Mad Max movie!
Sam : Karim’s condition made filming quite difficult, this led us to cancel some days of shooting as well as having to stop earlier at times. He was still trying to do everything that we asked of him but that did make us realise how difficult it is to be suffering from his condition. Your life changes, you can’t do everything you want to do; partying, playing sports, or even staying awake a little later than normal.
Pauline : The best moment was when we went to Paris for the Red Bull Battle. Meeting so many great people, including the b-boys, was incredible. Hearing them talk about their career, and seeing Karim in the battle, smiling and dancing like a newborn was a real highlight.
Sam : The scariest moment was when we were editing, and you realise that you have too many rushes for one part and not enough for another. You continue to edit but after a few days you start doubting your work and just want to start again from scratch.
Pauline : You only live once.
Sam : Seeing such a high level of dance in person was a genuinely great experience.
Pauline : We learned a lot about hip hop, breakdance, b-boys, and techniques such as popping and locking. Seeing Karim, this young sick man fighting so much for his passion, we learned a little more to enjoy the opportunities that are given to us.
Do not procrastinate...life is short.