- Thursday, Jun. 22, 2017
- CANNES, France
The 27th Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase, unveiled on Thursday morning (6/22) before more than 2,000 delegates at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, featured a field of up-and-coming talent consisting of 17 individual directors and three teams filling a total of 20 slots.
This year’s lineup included five female filmmakers: Holly Blakey of Lez Creative; Anna Ginsburg of Passion Pictures; Alicia MacDonald of Missing Link Films; Mollie Mills who’s unsigned (but touring with Supra); and A.V. Rockwell of Little Minx. This marks the highest number of women to be included in Saatchi’s annual Showcase.
Kate Stanners, chairwoman and global chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, introduced the show and spoke of Saatchi’s future commitment to using the event as a springboard for new female directors, actively encouraging and promoting talent to come to the forefront. She is committing to increase the ratio of female to male directors featured on the Showcase reel by a further 20 percent by 2020.
Also in this year’s Saatchi class of Showcase directors were five more who are as of yet not affiliated with production companies. The unsigned contingent included Matthew Palmer; the duo of Stephen McNally and Majid Adin; Steve Smith; and Trim Lamba.
The rest of the Showcase field maintains production house ties. They are: Dorian & Daniel of Academy Films (UK), and Bigfish and Element E (Germany); Ian Derry of Archers Mark; James Manzello who maintains his own production company; the team known as The Blaze who’s with Iconoclast; Michal Marczak of Pulse; Nicolas Menard of Nexus; Oh Seoro of KIAFA (Korean Independent Animation Filmmakers Association); Oscar Hudson of Pulse; Ryan Staake of Riff Raf; Salomon Ligthelm of Stink; and Tony Yacenda of The Directors Bureau.
The reel this year shows a typically eclectic mix, ranging from music videos, animated shorts, humor, erotica, surrealism and the grotesque. Directors on the reel hail from Canada, Germany, Iran, Japan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the USA.
Blakey of Lez Creative, who’s British, gained Saatchi Showcase judges’ attention with Klyne’s “Don’t Stop” music video. She made her first mark as a music video choreographer and then moved into directing. As a director she earned an MVA nomination for Best Dance Video in 2015 and this year was up for Best New Director.
The French director/producer tandem The Blaze, who’s with production house Iconoclast, earned Showcase inclusion with their music video "Territory."
Derry, a Brit with production house Archers Mark, made the Showcase with the otherworldly scenes of Johanna: Under The Ice, his debut short film. A stunning portrait of an Arctic free diver become an Internet sensation when it was released on Nowness, quickly racking up millions of views on National Geographic’s channel and earning itself worldwide recognition, including being nominated for a D&AD and eliciting a phone call from Oprah Winfrey.
The German duo of Dorian & Daniel (whose production house affiliations are Academy Films in the UK, and both Bigfish and Element E in Germany) earned Showcase distinction for ABC of Death. The directors’ paths first crossed at the Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg where they both started studying commercial directing. They came together as a directorial duo there and have already made a mark in the industry marketplace.
Ginsburg of Passion Pictures, who’s British, was recognized for "Material World," initially commissioned by Selfridges and marking her first commercial project. The piece explores sustainable fashion using 2D animation and earlier won a Silver British Arrow in the 2D category. Presenting impressive illustrations created by Sara Andreasson, the content is both informative and funny. Ginsburg specializes in combining different techniques and approaches, working across traditional hand-drawn 2D animation, stop motion, digital imagery and live action.
Hudson, a Brit with production house Pulse, made the Showcase on the basis of the visual magic in his “No Reason” promo for Bonobo, which showcases themes of landscape and alienation.
Lamba, who’s not affiliated with a production company, is a British Indian filmmaker from London. The Showcase recognized his Snapchat-based drama Cracked Screen, a Vimeo Staff Pick which was screened around venues in Europe including the British Film Institute and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. The thought-provoking piece follows a woman, who halfway through filming becomes the victim of an acid attack.
South African Ligthelm, who now calls New York City home and is with production house Stink, earned a Showcase slot with the piece titled Medicine. His body of work includes short films like Rocket Wars documenting the stunning aerial fireworks of a Greek village, commercials for Audi and Valvoline, and music videos for such artists as Daughter and Young Fathers.
MacDonald of Missing Link Films, who’s British, earned inclusion for the film Domestic Policy, which was partially funded by Film London. Her other credits include the short films Otherwise Engaged and Bachelorette, music videos for Izo Fitzroy, sketches for comedy duo Mid-Brow, and branded content for Fitbit. She is currently in development on a comedy web series for C4 titled Working Girl.
Manzello, who maintains his own production roost, is born and based in New York City. He’s the co-founder and head writer/director of Handsome Dancer, the video comedy team responsible for Coincidance and The Neighborhood, winner of the 2014 New York Television Festival Audience Award. Coincidance is his entry on the Saatchi Showcase reel. Manzello was a cast member and writer for MTV’s Joking Off, and has also appeared on ABC’s What Would You Do? and in the Noah Baumbach film While We’re Young.
Marczak, who’s Polish, is with Pulse. His “I Promise” for Radiohead is on the Showcase reel. Marczak’s latest feature film All These Sleepless Nights premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where he won the World Cinema Documentary Award for Best Directing.
McNally and Adin, a duo as yet unaffiliated with a production house, made their Showcase mark with Rocketman, an enchanting piece of animation which depicts Adin’s real life journey as a refugee from Iran to the UK via the Calais jungle. McNally is Irish while Adin is Iranian.
Canadian Menard is with Nexus, working and living in London. His Showcase entry is Wednesday with Goddard, which echoes Becketts’ “Waiting for Godot” and is set against bright blocky colored animation. Menard has worked with such clients as Facebook, MTV and The New York Times.
Mills (who’s unsigned but touring with Supra) is part of a new wave of artists from London. Her Showcase piece is The Cowboy Prayer. Her film subjects range from a South African ballerina to a group of NYC subway dancers, and an Olympic figure skater.
The unaffiliated Palmer gained Showcase inclusion for the documentary short One Week In April which tackles the subject of toddlers accidentally shooting themselves in the U.S., provoking questions and debate about gun control. Palmer, an American, produced and directed the feature-length documentary Friends of Mine, which premiered at the Hollywood Film Festival.
Rockwell of Little Minx is from the U.S. and earned a Showcase slot on the strength of The Gospel, a music-driven short film commissioned by singer/songwriter Alicia Keys. The Gospel premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
South Korean filmmaker Seoro is an illustrator and animator. His Afternoon Class film earned not only Showcase inclusion but also a host of awards at the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, Monstra Lisbon Animated Film Festival, Big Cartoon Festival, and the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, among other competitions.
Smith, who’s unaffiliated, is an American who gained a Showcase slot with Facelift. He runs a small record label called Active Benz and has produced interactive web content for Adult Swim.
Staake, an American who’s with the company Riff Raff, spent the late 2000s working as a human interface designer at Apple, contributing to the iPhone, iPad and mac OS. He’s at home working across multiple mediums, including video, interactive, VR, print or whatever stimulates his imagination. His Showcase piece is the film Young Thug “Wyclef Jean.”
And Yacenda, an American with The Directors Bureau, made a Showcase splash with Pillow Talking which includes a leftfield existential rant on the military, dinosaurs and God, delivered against Lil Dicky’s genius lyrics.
Saatchi New Directors Showcase curator Andy Gullman said, “This year the NDS maintains the reputation which has been built up over the previous 26 years. The 2017 reel demonstrates that ‘new’ Directing talent has been inspired to deliver a ‘social message’. Previously where there was hard hitting visual, this year we have powerful words married to arresting images. Traditional film making styles are still very well represented. Whilst, watching the individual films you have to remind yourself that this film was delivered by a ‘new’ director. We want to be introduced to a new generation with a fresh approach and attitude. We want to find young talent that can manage a traditional format and stand out from the crowd. We want to give great work great exposure.”
Gender equality theme
Taking place at the Grand Théâtre Lumière, the Saatchi Showcase presentation lasted 70 minutes and presented the very best, groundbreaking directorial talent from around the globe.
Partnering with Oscar-winning creative studio, MPC, the show celebrated creativity, innovation and provided a platform for up-and-coming directors.
Renowned in recent years for its technology-focused spectacles, the NDS took a new direction this year and chose to highlight a polemic issue within filmmaking: gender diversity. With statistics showing that only 7 percent of commercial directors are female, the pre-reel entertainment was used this year as a platform to explore the topic of gender.
To introduce the show, a three-minute piece was shown to the audience directed by 2016 NDS-featured director, Jake Dypka. Last year his film Embarrassed, which featured celebrated poet and spoken word artist, Hollie McNish, was included on the reel and vocalized the daily battle mothers face when nursing in public. Both Dypka and McNish were invited back and commissioned to co-direct a film together, which celebrates gender and presents how women and men perceive the world differently.
Titled Open your eyes, the new piece explores diversity and plays with the idea that everything in our lives is in some way, gendered. Provoking the audience to look again and reconsider their own views on gender, it aims to raise questions and start a conversation on the potential causes of inequality in filmmaking today and its impact is tangible and hard hitting.
The clear gender divide within the film suggests the restriction, that, when growing up, boys and girls feel – affecting what they are expected to be later in life. Another central theme explored is how as society we imprint our own ideals of gender onto the young, raising the question of whether gender is inherent or influenced by society.
Dypka said, “I would like people to take away from this film the idea that men and women can follow whatever path they choose. Everyone is different, and everyone is beautiful. Let’s celebrate that fact! Casting this film carries its own message. From the start, the brief was to celebrate diversity and a large part of that celebration has also come through in the casting.”
In keeping with NDS tradition the audience experienced the film in a unique way, which married technology with emotion. The MPC team harnessed the power of 3D technology to present the NDS audience with two different stories simultaneously: one depicting the "male" experience of gender stereotyping and the other the "female" experience – whilst Hollie performs the powerful spoken word narration.
During the three-minute production, viewers switched between the two stories using custom-made polarized glasses, empowering the audience to self-edit the action in real-time. Unlike traditional stereoscopic technology, which uses one pair of polarized glasses, the bespoke set of glasses, made especially for the Cannes premiere, have either two "left" lenses (blue) or two "right" lenses (pink) so the audience comfortably swapped between the action of the two films.
To make it all possible, the two 2D films were projected onto the 3D screen, while filters on both the projector and the polarized glasses presented the viewer with just one narrative at a time.
Changing glasses at any point in the film gave an alternative perspective — a unique and interactive way to hand over editorial power to the audience, and elevating the film’s core message of seeing things differently.
This year the Saatchi & Saatchi Showcase will continue its partnership with MPC and tour the reel and introductory film with NDS events taking place in London, Milan, New York and Shanghai from September this year. More information will be revealed in the coming weeks.
The famous Paul Arden, a former Saatchi & Saatchi executive creative director, presented the first ever NDS in 1991 and it quickly grew from strength to strength, establishing a reputation for unearthing directing the talent of the future.
Graham Bird, chief commercial officer at MPC said, “Moving image is one of the most powerful forms of storytelling and has the capacity to take us all on an emotional journey. We understand the integral part it plays in both the advertising landscape and in everyday lives. We live in an exciting time where film content has never been so prominent and it’s no surprise that research predicts by 2019 online video will be responsible for 80% of global internet traffic. What sets the 20 NDS directors apart is their ability to craft unique and inspirational films, which captivate their audience”.
In its 27th year, the annual show continues to inspire and act as a launching pad for directing talent. Counting iconic directors: Jonathan Glazer, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Ivan Zacharias, Ringan Ledwidge, Noam Murro, James Rouse, Fredrik Bond among its alumni.