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Saatchi Debuts 22nd Annual New Directors’ Showcase

Saatchi and Saatchi opened the 22nd installment of its popular New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes with a dazzling fleet of hovering machines that performed a synchronized techno-ballet, shooting streaks of light across the stage and into the audience as they moved to an uplifting melody, illustrating this year’s theme, “Meet Your Creator.”

Saatchi senior creatives Jonathan Santana and Xander Smith, who were appointed creative directors of the showcase last year, masterminded the futuristic intro, this time teaming with tech-art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast and University of Pennsylvania grads Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, founders of KMel Robotics and brains behind the agile quadrotors. Saatchi also enlisted electronic artist Oneohtrix Point Never, AKA Daniel Lopatin to help out with the show’s soundtrack. The highly coordinated dancing machines were a mesmerizing drumrolll to this year’s showcase, which showcased a collection of directors with very distinct points of view and a range of skillsets.

The bright lights from the intro were a fitting segue to the first film, a hypnotic (or nausea-inducing, depending how hung over you were from last night’s festivities) animated showcase of optical illusions, created by Fleur & Manu of Division Paris. Other visual stunners included Brian L. Perkins and Damian Kulash, Jr. of Paracadute’s OK Go! music video for Chevy, an Etsy meets high-end organic effects dance piece from Andrew Thomas Huang, bizarre birds with human arms in a music video from Pulse Films’ Ninian Doff, James W. Griffiths’ “Splitscreen: A Love Story,” Rick Mereki’s short film move, and a self-exploring surf film from Mickey Smith. Not surprisingly, Blur Studio’s Tim Miller made an appearance, with his fantastic, sultry titles for the David Fincher-directed “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Another film title also made the showcase, the delightful animated opener for Steven Spielberg’s “Tin Tin,” by Partizan’s James Curran. Another animated charmer was the book-lover tale “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore,” from Moonbot Studios’ William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (which was also turned into a fantastic iPad app).

On the funny front, Graydon Shepard’s popular “Shit Girls Say” film made the cut, along with a hilarious trailer spoofing incomprehensible British accents from Skunk’s Rhys Thomas and a dog pal tale from Uber Content’s Daniel Strange. Another comedic show-stopper was a promo for MTV’s “The Hard Times of R.J. Berger,” from Station Film’s Seyi Peter-Thomas. It depicted, in hilarious slow-motion, the chain of events illustrating how the show’s main character goes from a nobody, to the most talked about kid on campus after a prank exposes his unusually large member to his schoolmates.

The show had its dark moments, which ranged from the moving to unsettlingly morbid. Axis Animation’s Stuart Aitken brought unexpected emotion to the zombie genre in his gorgeous film for the videogame “Dead Island,” Jomes + Tino of Iconoclast imagined addiction, as it pertains to athletes, for Nike. Partizan’s Skinny directed a gritty love story drug bust, while Lars Andheim and Christoffer Lossius of Filmfakstisk AS were behind the most shocking and controversial piece of the show, a music video for Lasse Passage,’s “Say Say Say.” The Mr. Rogers-meets-Hannibal Lecter tale portrays, in extreme detail, a husband’s murder, then eventual consumption, of his wife.

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