Cannes Lions 2015: Senthil Kumar reviews The New Directors Showcase

The NCD of J. Walter Thompson is floored by the opening act, and some of the work

Jun 26, 2015 10:14:00 AM | Article | Senthil Kumar

A stunning experiment in film chain by 25 of the world's best directors was the opening act to the annual New Directors 2015 Saatchi Showcase at the Cannes Lions.
For 25 years now, this show has championed the best new directing talent by showcasing their work on the Cannes Lions stage. And it was mind blowing to open with the world premiere of an experiment in film by famous alumni from previous years of showcases including greats like Jonathan Glazer, Michel Gondry and Jake Scott, back in the show as part of this landmark anniversary.
The experiment was strung together with three simple rules to the directors: Create a 60 second film. End your film with a prop from your original showcase film. Start your film with the preceding directors prop. This prop-to-prop chain of films included a camel, reading glasses, hammer, light bulb, condoms, pipe, night dress, crucifix, tai chi outfit, taxi, red paint, mop and bucket, power drill, weightlifters chalk, flower, football, butterfly, car, rain, record, police riot shield, pistol, green man and a crane. And most of the films featured the directors themselve: a mind-numbing melting pot of explosive film talent from the last 25 years.
While my favourite link in the chain was the brutally simple hammer to bulb graphic section by Jonathan Glazer, the sum of all the 25 props, was an inspiring chain of films that celebrated the occasion and held the audience spellbound.
Now let's see who is coming up to take the next 25 years of scripts head on and bring your ideas to life. Would urge you to watch the films now live on and then review ‘The Class of 2015’ New Directors Showcase along with me for better reading of this fresh bouquet of talent.
#1: Helmi / Tiga 'Bugatti' : ☆☆☆
A music video made of both audio and video loops building a non-stop chain of events, repeated over and over gain.
Some edgy interludes and graphic intervals made this watchable but nothing that moved you to a wow. The rhythm of the song and the direction allow the director to create visual frames between winter sports and surrealist situations inspired by the '80s.
#2: Elizabeth Lo / 'Hotel 22' ☆☆☆☆☆

This is the 22. You all sleep here. But don’t put your feet up on the seats… A haunting film about Line 22, the only Bus Route in Silicon Valley, where the homeless have found a home and take shelter in it at night. Harsh reality documented in a gripping story of a night in the life of the homeless in what's probably, the world's richest IT city today. The story of human survival told in a moving bus. Eye opening and delivers the idea of buses as socially dynamic spaces that can reveal something about society and the director's craft is visible when he puts us viewers in the riders' shoes for just one night.
#3: Chandler Levack & Jeremy Rioux | Pup 'Guilt Trip' ☆☆☆☆
The making of a touring punk band told through the almost autobiographical music video called Guilt Trip. Evocative storytelling of a bunch of badass kids who form a band in the woods made to seem just as tough and powerful as the real life band members. Exaggerated storytelling but also raw and kind of real. And the kids deliver the spunk that grows into a punk band. The fluent editing makes us complete the rest of the story in our minds. Well told.
#4:  Maria Takeuchi and Frederico Phillips | as•phyx•i•a ☆☆☆
A collaborative effort in film created by Maria Takeuchi with Frederico Phillips and performed by artist Shiho Tanaka. The graphic narrative of a body struggling to breathe using dots and pixels and lines forming threads of the human form, explores new ways to combine different technologies. The performance is centered in an eloquent choreography that stresses the desire to be expressive without bounds. Motion data captures and dynamic simulations using a number 3D tools make this a choreographed dance of technology. 
#5: Yvan Fabing | Garage ☆☆
Visual design grafitti of fabric and form setting fire to a high fashion ramp. Fashion merges with chemistry in this film of graphic, chemical and surreal transformation or transition. Each dress worn by Lindsey Wixon is taken forward in organic shapes and structures, the garments themselves becoming the origin of each new chemical reaction. From clouds of smoke to a gold-meshed forest of newly formed patterns, the looks grow, bleed, flow and disappear. Visual effects are used to morph the dresses, creating a surreal world in which Lindsey makes the rules, taking control as she strides through each transformation.
#6: Factory Fifteen | The Bug 'Function / Void ☆☆
A short film featuring stunning graphic novelesque VFX created for Ninja Tune’s acid-grime artist The Bug. Inspired by sci-fi and futuristic fiction classics such as THX-1138, Brave New World and 1984, the video is set in an alternative present and illustrates the collapse of an amplified consumer society. The narrative follows the life of a drone living in a totalitarian system, medicated to think, feel and function. The monochrome video short uses a mix of live action and VFX to visualise the fracture and breakdown of the city when he stops conforming.
#7: Kyungmin Woo | JohnnyExpress ☆☆☆☆

A beautifully crafted animation film about Johnny, a space delivery courier travelling through space to deliver a package. His ship soon arrives on a very small planet where he needs to deliver the package. What Johnny doesn’t realise is that this advanced alien civilisation is actually microscopically small, so small as to be nearly invisible. As Johnny is going around the planet looking for his package’s recipient, he is destroying entire tiny purple alien cities and finally the whole miniature planet.

#8 : Young Replicant | Flying Lotus 'Coronus Terminator' ☆☆

An all-black zombieland video but with a deep, twisted tale of death. As a man lies on his deathbed, reality and dreamtime blurs. But the dying man's hallucinatory journey is not about to end on a happy, dreamy note. But leads him up the wrong path like the narrative in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The director adds that "It's a story about a father navigating through the afterlife bardo, the intermediate zone, towards a new state." Young Replicant addresses this soulful track on the Flying Lotus album You're Dead! with a fresh approach to the record's overarching theme — death and the afterlife. 

#9 : Dent de Cuir | DyE 'She's Bad' ☆☆☆
Superimposition of multiple and graphic wildlife with a woman's clothes, form and skin. Inspired by John Stezaker's collages, this psycho-sexual naughty horror story is a visual exploration of modern romances, and games of seduction. 
#10: Ben Knight | Denali ☆☆☆☆

In memory of Denali: the story of man and dog told with the mirror images of who’s taking care of the other. There’s no easy way to say goodbye to your best friend. Especially if that best friend stuck by your side during the darkest time in your life, licking your feet, shadowing your footsteps and going insane with joy every time he saw you. This short celebrates the human-dog bond and illuminates the incredible resilience we can conjure with the help of our friends. Beautiful Story. Beautiful telling of it.

#11: Dexter Navy | A$AP Rocky 'L$D' ☆☆☆

Crazy transitions buzzing and blurring with neon lights for a rap music video that switches to soul somewhere in between.

The colours and brilliance of the streets of Tokyo completely take over the eyes, the soul and all the senses in this fluid and extraordinary creation from the 24 year-old photographer and filmmaker. Shot on the streets of Tokyo, the trippy video experiences a whole night in one, both good and bad, it’s a seamless transition through the mind.
#12: Guillaume Panareillo | Siska 'Unconditional Rebel' ☆☆

A five-second single ultra slow motion take expanded across over a thousand frames  to form a film born of sunning technique. Every single frame is in ultra slow motion (atleast 1000fps) shot. The different scenes that follow one another like a mural, creating the sense of the characters almost being frozen in a decisive moment, symbolic and dream-like. The full shot itself lasted 5.2 seconds during which the camera, mounted on a car, moved along an 80-meter stretch of road, past a total of 80 actors. Each section is synchronised with the movement of the camera. The end result is a striking mismatch between the speed of the action (very slow) and the speed of the camera (fast).

#13: Eric Kissack | The Gunfighter ☆☆☆☆☆
The idea and the narrative for the voice in the bar is so original, so fresh and so funny that aside from the laughs, the thematic idea of the destruction that would be wrought on society if we couldn’t keep any secrets is a hidden layer. Eric the director adds, "We all publicly praise honesty but deep down we know that disaster would strike if we lived in a world without secrets. It was terrific fun to explore that theme in such a clever, original way.”
#14: Charlie Robins | Klankarussell 'Netzwerk Falls Like Rain' ☆☆ 

This film for Austrian electronic artists Klangkarussell, can make you break into a cold sweat while hunched over our laptop at home or watching it on a screen somewhere. The video features Mustang Wanted, a Ukrainian urban free climber whose fearless exploits take him up some of the highest buildings on earth, without ropes. Or permission. The freeclimbers total lack of fear is obvious as he scales difficult ledge after ledge and crosses the edge.

The author is the NCD of J. Walter Thompson
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