WHAT THEY ARE: A music video for the track "Territory," from French directing and music-making duo The Blaze, earned the Film Craft Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, while another music promotional effort, Bjork's virtual reality experience "Notget VR," earned the Digital Craft Grand Prix.
The Blaze, aka cousins Jonathan and Guillaume Alric, crafted a powerful tale around an Algerian man's homecoming to promote the "Territory" track from their debut LP. The video, which earned attention at the festival yesterday as part of Saatchi's annual New Directors Showcase, is a striking interplay of emotion and power: the hero envelops a male family member in crushing embrace, he throws punches at a gym (in sync with the track's drumbeat), he dances lithely as if in a trance, surrounded by crew of other men and chases after little children like a playful bull. While the various scenes don't convey a clear-cut story, woven together they make for a compelling tale that demands multiple viewings.
London visual effects company Analog and W&N Studio, home of the project's directors Warren Du Preez and Nick Thorton Jones, created the Bjork "Notget VR" experience (see non-VR rendering above) promoting a track of the same name off her "Vulnicura" album, which has already previously spawned other virtual reality efforts including one for "Stonemilker." The Grand Prix-winner depicts Bjork's digital avatar, adorned in a second skin of dancing lights and skipping about in an ethereal world -- the depth of which, Digital Craft Jury President Henry Cowling said, needs to be experienced in virtual reality.
WHY THEY WON: Film Craft Jury President Robert Galluzzo, founder and executive director at Finch, Australia, explained that his category is "a tricky one because it's not about the broad strokes. I'ts about the minutiae. With an enormous amout of film content being made, there's never been a more important time to understand the value of film craft. It's not about big budgets. It's really about artistry."
As for The Blaze's "Territory," "It's a story about celebrating the human condition," he said. "It constantly moved us and we see it less as a Grand Prix and more as a gift to the festival audience. The casting is stunning, the cinematography is glorious, the music track is amazing, the edits superb and it's a piece of film that has an albeit ambiguous narrative, but one that feels important."
Digital Craft Jury President Cowling, creative director at Unit9, said that Bjork's "Notget" VR experience earned praise from the jury for its ground-breaking execution across multiple aspects of the category. "It really represents everything we want to say about craft, not just about virtual reality. It combines all the facets of digital craft we'd been admiring across all the other projects we looked at, at the highest possible level. At the same time, what gave it the edge was the fact that's it's breaking new ground. Taking risks is integral to craft generally, and in particular to digital, and that's what this case did so compellingly. It's breaking new ground in new media, storytelling and experience design and it's doing it in a way that's absolutely virtuous."
It seems music videos have experienced a renaissance of late, thanks to the rise of digital technologies and emergence of new formats. Last year at Cannes, Beyonce's "Formation" music video earned the first Entertainment for Music Grand Prix.
CONTROVERSY OR CLEAR WINNER? In the film craft jury, the decision was unanimous and "met with cheers from our jury," Calluzzo said. He did acknowledge that another much-talked about piece of film going into the Festival, Channel 4's "We're the Superhumans," was also in contention, but ultimately, "if you break it down, we could find a few flaws." The Grand Prix winner "was a little bit more of a look forward. It felt fresher to us."