Monday, October 24, 2016
  • Thursday, Jun. 23, 2016
Saatchi New Directors Showcase Puts Cannes Attendees In Someone Else’s Shoes
Perspectives of a girl with Down syndrome, refugees victimized by hate crimes depicted in poignant work of new filmmaking talent
  • CANNES, France
  • --

To walk a mile in another person’s shoes is an adage underscoring how insightful and awareness-raising the experience can be of seeing and encountering the world through someone else’s eyes. That’s a theme that plays with great poignancy through the work of several filmmakers selected for the Saatchi & Saatchi 26th Annual New Directors Showcase which was unveiled today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Among the prime examples are director Matt Lambert’s “High School Never Ends” music video for Mykki Blanco, and the Reed Morano-directed “How Do You See Me?” for CoorDown, Italy’s national organization for people with Down syndrome.

Morano, who’s with production company Pulse Films, directed “How Do You See Me?”--created by Saatchi & Saatchi NY--to mark World Down Syndrome Day back on March 21. The short features a girl with Down syndrome named AnnaRose Rubright narrating the life she wants to have, and in this life, she’s played by actress Olivia Wilde. This metaphor is aimed to ignite a conversation around how those living with Down syndrome see themselves and how they are often times disadvantaged when people pre-judge them based on their condition. People with Down syndrome are still too often victims of discrimination, and even more than what is said about them, the way other people look at them is a common indicator of this type of prejudice.

Meanwhile prejudice takes a violent, abusive, harrowing form in “High School Never Ends,” offering an altogether different version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in which forbidden love is met by unbridled hate, an us versus them scenario with implications for such issues as the refugee crisis and violence against LGBT people. The seven-and-a-half-minute minute film was produced by Iconoclast in collaboration with The FADER and !K7. Director Lambert is with production house PRETTYBIRD.

Music videos
Music video fare was fairly prominent in this latest Saatchi Showcase, among the other recognized clips being: Skrillex’s “Red Lips” directed by Grant Singer of Anonymous Content/Somesuch; "Eclipse" by Anni Mathison (the moniker for an Artificial Intelligence director conceived by Saatchi); KCPK’s “Who Wants It” featuring STS directed by Nicolas Davenel; De Staat’s “Witch Doctor” directed by Studio Smack of Supergoober; Jane Bordeaux’s “Ma’agalim” directed by Uri Lotan and Yoav Shtibelman of Hornet; El Perro Del Mar’s “In The Woods” directed by Connor Hurley (unaffiliated); and rock band Radkey’s “Glore” directed by Nicos Livesey of Blinkink.

Other fare
Also affiliated with Blinkink are the Layzell Bros. who directed the Harvey Nichols’ “Shoplifters” spot, which scored with Saatchi judges.

Director Jake Dypka of London production house Indy8 earned Showcase inclusion on the strength of the video “Embarrassed” in which British poet and spoken word artist Hollie McNish gives voice to the daily battle mothers face when nursing their babies in public.

Director Bennet Silverman (unaffiliated) earned a Showcase slot for the parody horror movie trailer “Handjob Cabin.”

Director Albert Omoss (unaffiliated) won over Saatchi judges with a piece of experimental animation, Undercurrents, which takes viewers on a trip into their own consciousness.

Director Caroline Bartleet (unaffiliated) is on the Saatchi New Directors roster for Operator, a short film in which an emergency services operator battles to save a young mother and her son from a house fire.

Dan DiFelice (unaffiliated) made the Saatchi cut with the short film Carved in Mayhem.

Unaffiliated director Dorota Kobiela’s animation wherewithal--which garnered her Showcase inclusion--has been brought to bear on Loving Vincent, billed as the first fully hand painted feature film. This documentary pays homage to Vincent Van Gogh.

James Burns (unaffiliated) directed the documentary short We Live This, centered on four boys from the NY projects. Their story impressed the Saatchi ensemble.

Invaders, a dark comedy horror short film, landed director Jason Kupfer (unaffiliated) a Showcase slot.

Director Tomas Vergara’s short film Isolated drew Saatchi recognition. Vergara maintains Peak Pictures.

And Rupert Burton directed the AICP 25th Anniversary Showreel piece, which got a thumbs-up for the Showcase.

Showcase presentation
In presenting this year’s edition of Showcase talent, Saatchi challenged the creative community by asking Cannes attendees and for that matter the global community at large, “Can a film made by machines move you?”

Working together with Team One, Saatchi & Saatchi’s Los Angeles luxury and premium brand agency, and Zoic Labs, Saatchi & Saatchi assembled a cast of artificial intelligence, algorithms and machines the same way a studio would assemble a traditional film crew. Several technologies were used in a never-before-seen combination to create the film from start to finish, including IBM Watson, Microsoft’s Ms. Rinna, Affectiva’s facial recognition software, EEG data and a custom neural art program.

The film--conceived, shot and edited by a plethora of machines (with the Anni Mathison moniker)--debuted on the anniversary of computer guru Alan Turing’s birth on June 23, 1912. (Turing’s story was told in the acclaimed feature The Imitation Game.)

Ruairi Glynn, director, Interactive Architecture Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, is a practicing artist and academic specializing in the field of AI and robotics. He commented: “Alan Turing was the first person to ask the question ‘Can machines think?’, which then leads immediately to the question can machines be creative? We’ve begun to see machines making new and surprising things which are aesthetically compelling.”

The remaining big question of Artificial Creativity is whether the machine can understand the significance of the thing it has created? It’s interesting to explore the potential to build machines that simulate human intelligence but the really exciting future is developing new forms of creative intelligence quite unlike our own.”

Andy Gulliman, New Directors Showcase curator and producer, said, “When virtual reality seems to be the must-have toy of the moment, we wanted to look beyond and as a result became obsessed by the apparent capabilities of AI. Intrigued to know if AI could really support our creative needs and deliver to our creative standards, we needed to know the true capabilities of the machines so commissioned the experiment. Once we gave the go-ahead to the machine I quickly learnt that I had to relinquish my producer control to accommodate the production process dictated by the machines.”

Chris Graves, chief creative officer at Team One, asked: “What defines a director? Twenty-five years ago, at the start of the New Directors’ Showcase, directors were a particular kind of person with a particular set of skills. But technology has been evolving that definition ever since. Now, new directors debut every day on online platforms like YouTube, Vine and Snapchat.”

During its 25-year history, the Showcase has proved to be a hotbed of talent and many well-known directors today were featured early on in their careers. The Showcase is renowned for pushing boundaries creatively and artistically, and gained a reputation for introducing new and emerging technologies to the stage. In 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi marked 25 years of the NDS with 25x25, a film created by NDS alumni including Jonathan Glazer, Spike Jonze, Jake Scott and Michel Gondry.

Kate Stanners, global chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “How to build on 25 years of the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase and an archive of incredible directing talent, whilst producing a screening at the Palais des Festival in Cannes which lives up to our reputation as an agency on the frontier of technological and creative innovation? That’s the challenge that we faced this year.”

Meeting that challenge, continued Stanners, was the exploration of “how Artificial Intelligence and machines can be used to enhance human creativity, a subject that is on the creative radar right now.”

Credits for ScreenWork: 

Client CoorDown/World Down Syndrome Day Agency Saatchi & Saatchi NY Jay Benjamin, chief creative officer; Luca Pannese, Luca Lorenzini, global creative directors; Mike Pierantozzi, executive creative director/writer; Lauren McCrindle, creative director/writer; Aksana Berdnikova, art director; Federico Evangelista, strategic planning director; Shae Carroll, social media planner; John Doris, head of film production; Bruce Andreini, executive producer. Production Pulse Films Reed Morano, director/DP; Kira Carstensen, exec producer; Hillary Rogers, head of production; Erika Hampson, producer; Gilana Lobel, production supervisor; Kelly McGehee production designer; Mirren Gordon-Crozier, stylist; Serena Ryuan, hair and makeup. Editorial Cosmo Street Editorial Aaron Langley, editor; Josh Berger, assistant editor; Maura Woodward-Moulton, exec producer; Luiza Naritomi, producer. Music Future Perfect Adam Taylor, composer; Maxwell Gosling, exec producer. Postproduction Company 3 NY Sofie Borup, colorist; Claire Movshon, color producer. VFX Method Studios NY Tom McCullough, conform/VFX artist; Jennifer Hargreaves, head of production/producer. Audio Sonic Union David Papa, mixer; Pat Sullivan, producer; Justine Cortale, exec producer. Talent Olivia Wilde, AnnaRose Rubright