This morning, Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase enticed over 2,000 Cannes delegates to get out of bed and invited them to be inspired, educated and entertained.
Taking place at the Grand Théâtre Lumière at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the show 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 talented 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% 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 vocalised 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 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.
Creating a documentary form, the film is visually rich and honest and leans itself perfectly to the subject matter.
Jake Dypka said in the press release: “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, whilst 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.
The Director’s Showreel
To find the featured directors, Saatchi & Saatchi cast its net wider than ever before, also using MPC’s global network to increase visibility of the showcase and to invite submissions from directors from all around the world. To maximize the amount of time for talent to apply, the submission deadline was also extended twice.
The judging process this year was two-fold, with one internal and one external panel reviewing the entries. Both panels were formed of an equal number of female and male judges. Made up of key industry players, the second panel of judges included: Caroline Bartleet, Sara Dunlop, Alma Har’el, Kai-Lu Hsiung, Juliette Larthe, Anandi Peiris, Fergus Brown, Davud Karbassioun, Nik Powell, Richard Skinner, James Studholme, Kibwe Tavares.
Kate Stanners, Chairwoman and Global Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi introduced the show and spoke of Saatchi & Saatchi’s future commitment to using the event as a showcase for new female directorial talent, actively encouraging and promoting talent to come through to the forefront. She is committing to increase the ratio of female to male directors featured on the NDS reel by a further 20% by 2020. This year female directors: Alicia MacDonald, Anna Ginsburg, AV Rockwell, Holly Blakey, and Mollie Mills were featured, making it the highest number ever.
Stanners commented: “Over the last 26 years we have been hugely privileged to have built up industry respect and reputation for our show, the New Directors’ Showcase, as a place for new talent to come through to the forefront. Following our theme of gender this year, we intend to use the momentum to commit ourselves to be the place to view the best and brightest female stars and we hope under the NDS they’ll continue to flourish and to springboard onto greater things. We’ve still got a long way to go but we’re committed and want the wider industry to start having this conversation too”.
The reel this year shows a typically eclectic mix, ranging from music videos, animated shorts, humour, 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.
Material World by Anna Hinsberg was initially commissioned by Selfridges and is her first commercial project. Presenting impressive illustrations created by Sara Andreasson, the content is both informative and funny. Other moments of humour in the reel include ‘Pillow Talking’ which includes a leftfield existential rant on the military, dinosaurs and God, delivered against Lil Dicky’s genius lyrics. God makes another appearance in ‘Wednesday with Goddard’, which echoes Becketts ‘Waiting for Godot’, and is set against bright blocky coloured animation.
Bringing us back to reality with a bang, Trim Lamba’s thought-provoking piece follows a woman, who halfway through filming becomes the victim of an acid attack, as does Stephen McNally and Majid Adin’s enchanting animation, which depicts Majid’s real life journey as a refugee from Iran to the UK via the Calais jungle. The documentary short,
‘One week in April’ by Matthew Palmer tackles the hard-hitting subject matter of toddlers accidentally shooting themselves in America, provoking a big question about gun control.
Visual magic is conjured up by Oscar Hudson with his promo for Bonobo, which showcases themes of landscape and alienation, while otherworldly scenes are conjured up by Ian Derry in Johanna: Under The Ice.
NDS curator, Andy Gulliman 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”.
A fixture at Cannes since 1991, it continues to be Cannes Lion most popular delegate event. The famous Paul Arden, a former Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Creative Director, presented the first ever NDS, 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”.