Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase presents the best new talent in filmmaking highlighting gender diversity.

We reported on it last week, and on the 22nd of June,  the  legendary  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, “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.


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.”

The 20 directors selected for the New Directors’  Showcase reel 2017 and their films are listed below:

Alicia MacDonald  – Domestic Policy

Anna Ginsburg – Material World

AV Rockwell – Gospel

Dorian & Daniel – ABC of Death

Holly Blakey – Klyne ‘Don’t Stop’

Ian Derry – Johanna: Under The Ice

James Manzello – Coincidance

The Blaze – Territory

Matthew Palmer – One Week In April

Michal Marczak – Radiohead ‘I Promise’

Mollie Mills – The Cowboy Prayer

Nicolas Ménard – Wednesday with Goddard

Oh Seoro – Afternoon Class

Oscar Hudson – Bonobo ‘No Reason’

Ryan Staake –  Young Thug ‘Wyclef Jean’

Salomon Ligthelm  – Medicine

Stephen McNally & Majid Adin – Elton John ‘Rocket Man’

Steve Smith – Facelift

Tony Yacenda – Lil Dicky ‘Pillow Talking’

Trim Lamba  – Snapchat Story: Cracked Screen


This year the Saatchi & Saatchi NDS will continue their partnership with MPC and tour the reel and introductory film with NDS events taking place in London, Milan, New York and Shanghai  from  September  this  year.  More  information  will  be  revealed  in  the  coming weeks.

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”.

In its 27th year, the annual show continues to inspire and act as a springboard for directing talent.  Counting  iconic  directors:  Jonathan  Glazer,  Michel  Gondry,  Spike Jonze,  Ivan Zacharias, Ringan Ledwidge, Noam Murro, James Rouse, Fredrik Bond amongst its alumni.







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