Elton John's Video Contest Winners Include a Stunning Refugee Reimagining of 'Rocket Man'

Majid Adin Based the Story on His Own Journey From Iran to the U.K.

Published On
May 22, 2017

Editor's Pick

A poignant animated re-imagining of "Rocket Man," by an Iranian former refugee now working in animation production in London, is among the winners of the video contest held by Elton John and Bernie Taupin to create official videos for some of their famous tracks.

Back in December 2016, the singer and his songwriting partner Taupin invited aspiring filmmakers to create official music videos for "Tiny Dancer," "Bennie and the Jets" and "Rocket Man" in a global talent contest called "The Cut."

The winners, which have just been announced at the Cannes Film Festival, include the film by Majid Adin, which imagines the "Rocket Man" as a refugee traveling to London after parting from his wife and children. A fine art graduate working in animation production, Adin journeyed across Europe during the 2015 refugee crisis. In that time, he stayed in the infamous Calais Jungle camp before he received asylum in the U.K. Now, he's rebuilding his life as an artist in Britain. He partnered with Blinkink animation director Stephen McNally on the film.

The winning video for "Bennie and the Jets," by directors Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill, sets the song in a futuristic talent show. The set and central structure takes its inspiration from Fritz Lang's 1927 science-fiction film, "Metropolis," while the synchronized choreography is inspired by Busby Berkeley films, and the black and white aesthetic is a nod to the classic Hollywood era.

Max Weiland's winning video for "Tiny Dancer" is a tribute to Los Angeles, with the iconic track linking different people living in the city as they listen to it on their radios. They include cops, a drag artist and someone scattering a loved one's ashes. There's even a cameo of Marilyn Manson, behind the wheel of a tour bus with a giant snake.

The contest, held in conjunction with YouTube, received entries from over 50 countries. YouTube mentors assigned to each video category whittled down the entries. The mentors included Kurt Hugo Schneider for Live action (Tiny Dancer,) Parris Goebel for Choreography (Bennie and the Jets) and PES for Animation (Rocket Man.) They joined the judging panel of Barry Jenkins, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Melina Matsoukas, as well as Bernie Taupin and Elton John themselves. All the winners have received $10,000 for future creative endeavours.

Agency AKQA and production studio Pulse Films were the agency and production partners on "The Cut."


May 22, 2017
Brand :
Elton John
Client :
Elton John
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Production Company :
Pulse Films

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