Isherwood (right) welcomes Arden.
This morning in the Palais des Festivals' Grand Auditorium, an army of giant eyeballs descended from the sky, floating and dancing in mid-air above the stage to an ominous orchestral soundtrack. They arrived to open the always popular Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors' Showcase, representing the innovative visions of the 23 directorial talents featured at the event. “Directors see things in their own unique way,” announced Saatchi worldwide creative director Bob Isherwood. “This year we found another crop of outstanding talent from around the world and we brought them here today so you could see the world through 46 new eyes. In short, the way you’ll see things will inspire you, disturb you, excite you, take you by surprise.”
The show featured a diverse array of storytelling talents from around the globe, from traditional live-action directors to a generous selection of mixed media and animation artists. Audience favorites included the visually dazzling City Paradise
, about a Japanese girl’s fantasy-filled adjustment to London life, from Passion Pictures’ Gaelle Denis, which also earned the Grand Jury Prize at the Annecy animation festival earlier this year. A Japanese thread ran through other crowd pleasers, like Watermelon Love
, an oddly sensual manga-inspired tale from Japanese-born Woof Wan-Bau of Nexus Productions. The fairly tame audience bestowed perhaps the most generous applause on VW’s poppin’ version of Gene Kelly's “Singin’ in the Rain” number from Stink’s London-based directing duo Ne-o, aka Jake Knight and Japanese native Ryoko Tanaka.
Other dazzlers included a morbid mixed-media slashfest from Brooklyn-based Ugly, Associates In Science’s typeface silhouettes in a clip for Beck’s “Black Tambourine” and the touching Over Time from Partizan Lab’s Oury Atlan (in conjunction with Damien Ferrie and Thibault Berland), a melancholy tribute to Jim Henson about a family of Kermit-resembling puppets who attempt to re-animate their dead puppet master.
On the live-action front, comedy of course was king, with work from Epoch’s Matt Aselton, Harvest’s Michael Downing and Landia's Andy Fogwill & Agustin Alberdi. Laughs were plentiful for a pair of spots from the “If MTV Were” campaign, directed by HSI’s Randy Krallman, along with Aaron Stoller. On a more serious note, Adam Smith’s tale of intoxication and lust for The Streets' “Blinded by the Lights” kept the crowd rapt.
The show concluded with the return of the giant eyeballs, this time accompanied by a super-sized oculus, out of which popped veteran creative-turned-director Paul Arden, whom Isherwood brought on stage to honor on the 15th anniversary of the showcase. “During the first showcase, people were booing the work of Tarsem and Danny Kleinman, so Paul [Arden, then Saatchi/London’s creative director] stopped the reel and accused the audience of having tin eyes,” Isherwood noted. “Thankfully our audience has become a lot more discerning these days.” AdCritic subscribers can view a selection of the featured work online.
Directors included in this year's showcase are as follows: Matt Aselton (Epoch Films); Michael Downing (Harvest); Gaëlle Denis (Passion Pictures); Chris Nelson (Annex Films); Oury Atlan (Partizan Lab); tokyoplastic (Picasso Pictures); ne-o (Stink); Ugly (Ugly Pictures); Mateus de Paula Santos (Lobo); Frank Devos (Quad Productions); Associates in Science (Partizan); Eric Hillenbrand (Tempomedia Filmproduction); Baptiste Massé (MILK elementary resources PH); Brett Foraker (4Creative); Kezia Barnett (The Sweet Shop); Luciano Podcaminsky (Pioneer Productions); Woof Wan-Bau (Nexus Productions); Honest (CZAR.US); Joseph Kosinski (Anonymous Content); Randy Krallman (HSI Productions); Marcus Tomlinson (@radical.media); Andy Fogwill & Agustin Alberdi (Landia); and Adam Smith (Blink Productions).