Featuring Coréon Du

Declared by Forbes Magazine as one of “The 15 Young African Creatives Rebranding Africa”, Coréon Dú is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work encompasses TV and movie production, fashion design and music. Internationally known for his successful song ‘Bailando Kizomba,’ which was Top 30 on the Latin Billboard Charts for six months, and for his writing and production work for ‘Jikulumessu,’ which earned him International Emmy nominations, Coréon Dú now bursts onto the artistic scene with “Bangaologia,” a documentary that highlights the fashion culture in Angola, Coréon’s country of origin. Ayiba’s founder, Eyitemi Popo interviewed Coréon to find out more.

From television, to fashion, cinema, and film, you have created several successful projects. How do you decide which projects demand what medium? In other words, why did you choose to explore “Banga” as a documentary film?

I´ve been working commercially as a creative director and producer with my company for the past ten years doing mainly direction for branding/marketing projects and content for clients. After leaving Angola as a child and choosing to return to Angola to continue pursuing my professional career, I had to take a very multidisciplinary approach to how I work. Often in more structured markets like the US or most European markets where I had worked or interned in, people were used to specializing and usually working only in one medium. In Angola, most professionals do not have that luxury. Going through this has been a great learning process for when I have the opportunity to work on my personal projects such as the music, fashion, or some film projects like Bangaologia.

My exploration of Banga started quite indirectly since the first documentary I directed which was Festa de Quintal: The Angolan Home Theatre which was the culmination of the research for my master’s degree in 2010 and ended up being released theatrically in Angola and academically in few other locations.

About a year later as I worked on I Love Kuduro: From Angola to the World, I kept noticing the importance of “style” and its essence to local Angolan and African trends that then started crossing over to the mainstream in other countries. In music since the early 2000s Kuduro has been becoming increasingly popular in Europe and now it has its following in every continent, Kizomba is following the same path and then I see the same happening with Afrobeat, Azonto, Afrohouse, and many other African music and dance genres.

In the world of design, especially since 2010, I´ve been noticing the influence of African aesthetics growing in the world of fashion, architecture, and visual art internationally.

Coincidentally, 2010 was also my debut as model scout. That’s the year I discovered Maria Borges, who has been becoming a household name since basically her second year as a model outside Angola, and Roberta Narciso, who was at the time the only Black model doing shows for major brands such as Valentino and Prada for which she was only the third or fourth model after Naomi Campbell and Jourdan Dunn to work for that particular brand. And these were girls from Angola which is usually very underrepresented in African representation because we´re Portuguese speaking and our population is not large. For five years I noticed the demand for African beauty was growing everywhere, as it was for African creativity from all over the continent.

In my opinion, this is all happening because the world has finally become keen to discover and embrace the African Banga, our je ne sais quois, that extra factor that makes us very particular in the way that most Africans are very proud to celebrate their heritage while being world citizens.

How does Banga compare to the Sapeurs movement in Congo, if at all?

The Saupeurs have Banga. That´s the best way to explain it. La Sappe is defined by an aesthetic code. Banga is an intrinsic essence of our style as humans. Everyone in every culture has it, but chooses to express it differently and by different media. The Sappeur have become more of a visual tribe that have developed a specific code of visual conduct. A Bangão can be anyone, from any walk of life and express their Banga from any medium, whether it´s visual style, the way they speak, a talent like cooking or painting, and even very mundane everyday activities.

What was the most challenging part of creating this project? What is the hardest creative decision you had to make?

It was difficult to get into a concise documentary. There are so many stories to tell and from so many different places. Of course there was also the challenge of producing in Angola. Although our audiovisual sector is slowly growing, it is still not easy to get projects together and to convince the market that our stories are just as important to tell as the ones we receive from other cultures.

How did you get PAPER’s Mickey Boardman to feature in the documentary?

Mickey Boardman and PAPER in my opinion are doing a lot to promote new, creative propositions. I feel very thankful to have had their support in several projects and they seem to be very supportive of African talents and sharing new cultures with their readers. He came to Angola in 2013 when I was a scouting for and producing the Elite Model Look Angola. In fact he was one of the judges responsible for choosing Amilna Estevão who I discovered that year and become the first Black winner of the World Final of the contest and is currently making a splash in the fashion scene. PAPER also was the first English-speaking American publication to support my musical work in the US. So I´m very grateful for all they did not just for me, but also for all the African talents they are supporting in their platform.

Where can our readers watch Banga?

It’s still being screened at festivals. If they check out my social media pages (InstagramTwitter and Facebook) they can see where it´s screening near them. I´m still seeking distribution support for this project, so hopefully soon it may be available on TV and online platforms for everyone who wants to watch.

What do you want viewers to take way from the film?

I want people to see that everyone should embrace their own personality and their culture, and celebrate it every day.

You are the first feature we have had from Angola! So, I have to ask for those who want to learn more about Angola, what resources do you suggest? (e.g. blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, etc.)

I will start by the page for the 7 Natural Wonders of Angola which was organized by the famous 7 Wonders Foundation. Here you will see some of the best natural sites of Angola.  (Portuguese)

For style news, I follow Divo Magazine. Some who are familiar with my telenovela Windeck will remember this, it was actually a fictional magazine, but it now exists online and on social media.

Lastly, this YouTube channel has great news videos about what´s happening in Angola and Angolan diaspora.

Recently “Bangaologia” was nominated to “Best Documentary” at two of the biggest film festivals in Europe: London Fashion Film Festival 2016, and Warsaw Film Festival (Poland). The documentary will be officially premiered at Warsaw Film Festival on October 8th. Follow Coréon Dú to find out more.