‘Feel the Reel’

The 24th Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase premiers at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Cannes - Saatchi & Saatchi’s legendary New Directors’ Showcase (NDS) has been enchanting audiences at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the past 24 years.  Each year Saatchi & Saatchi’s Worldwide Creative Board selects a Showreel of some of the most exciting new global directorial talent, and presents it to an audience of more than 2,300 Cannes Lions delegates in the Grand Auditorium at the Palais des Festivals.  Historically the Showreel is introduced by a live theatrical spectacle, for which Saatchi & Saatchi enlists the talents of the most accomplished and exciting technological and creative innovators around. Ex-Worldwide Creative Director Bob Isherwood conceived the NDS in 1991, when it fast established a reputation for unearthing directing talent of the future, with NDS alumni including iconic directors Spike Jonze, Tarsem and Jonathan Glazer. 

As well as the Showreel providing a springboard for new directors to make their name on the world stage, the NDS theatrical event has showcased some of the most groundbreaking technology of recent years.  Saatchi & Saatchi has been coupling emotion with technology for the past few years through the NDS, and this year that relationship comes full circle with ‘Feel the Reel’, a theme conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi creatives Linda Weitgasser and Alex Sattlecker, and bought to life in an unprecedented experiment where the Showreel becomes the hero. 

Audience interaction plays a big part in this year’s NDS, and in a world first 2,300 people in the audience will wear a sensory wristband using a brand new emotional technology platform ‘XOX’ created by Studio XO - a groundbreaking fashion technology company represented by Juliette Larthe of Global Creative Production Agency PRETTYBIRD.  This year the NDS beautifully marries emotion with the Saatchi & Saatchi ethos of Lovemarks.  Studio XO’s XOX captures human emotion via their novel wearable technology, and the wearer’s emotion is projected back at them through data visualization created by visual artists Marshmallow Laser Feast  with Berlin collective Elektropastete.  The ‘feelthereel’ identity was created by Mark Farrow and Gary Stillwell at Farrow.  Both MLF and Farrow were brought in by PRETTYBIRD. 

Tom Eslinger, Worldwide Mobile and Social Director, commented: “Aside from a fantastic collection of directing talent, the wearable technology lets the audience co-create the event for the first time simply by watching. The theme, and what will be created by the audience and technology also fit beautifully with our business and filling the world with Lovemarks. Mobile, and particularly wearables, is a focus for Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide – we published my book Mobile Magic this year and have created mobile ideas for clients for over 10 years. The NDS allows us to test and learn at scale, while creating the most fun and visual live user test ever.  The panels and people at Cannes will be talking about wearables and mobile and social and UGC and co-creation: we will be combining that all together in a very cool live event.” 

‘Feel the Reel’ is the latest in a series of technology firsts presented by Saatchi & Saatchi through its NDS event in Cannes; The 2010 event bought back to life the late Creative Director Paul Arden with a live hologram on stage.  Live hologram technology was unprecedented at the time, and has since become ubiquitous in film and advertising, even being used in the Presidential elections in India this year.  In 2011, 2012 and 2013 Saatchi & Saatchi worked with PRETTYBIRD’s Juliette Larthe on the NDS live show, who bought on board visual artists Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) to give life to the themes conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi creatives Jonathan Santana and Xander Smith; ‘Hello, Future’ in 2011 (with Jamie Lidell and Clark); ‘Meet Your Creator’ in 2012 which featured Flying Robots (quadrotors created by KMel Robotics); and ‘Just for Hits’ in 2013 fronted by Professor Richard Dawkins and exploring the evolution of memes through the internet.


To find the featured directors, Saatchi & Saatchi invites submissions from directors around the world, utilising its Network of some 140 offices worldwide, and its relationships with key on-line sources.  The Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Creative Board, with creative direction from recently appointed Worldwide Creative Director Pablo Del Campo, made a final selection of 19 films by 18 directors.  

Andy Gulliman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Film and Content Director and curator of the NDS Showreel commented on the selection process: “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.” 

This year the reel has a typically eclectic mix of music videos, animated shorts, humour, erotica, surrealism and the grotesque.  Directors on the reel hail from Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland, UK and the USA.  There are some viral hits on the reel, including Tatia Pilieva’s erotic ‘First Kiss’, and Alberto Belli’s spoof HBO trailer ‘It’s Not Porn’. 

There is plenty of humour in the form of Vania Heymann’s ‘Walking Contest’, which observes the competitive nature of human beings; The Sacred Egg’s hairy promo for Breach’s ‘Jack’, Alvise Avati’s comic outer space spot ‘Beans’; and Tripp Crosby’s comedy sketch highlighting the absurdity of conference calls.  Ed Morris’s thought-provoking film on cyber-bullying for Cybersmile brings us back to reality with a bang, as does Simon Bonde & Peder’s disturbing monochrome music promo, which shows an underground fight club discovered by a young boy.  

Visual magic is conjured up by Tarik Abdel-Gawad with his film ‘Box’, which showcases projection mapping, and Emile Sornin’s pastiche of The Office with a gravity-defying twist.     Animation is represented by Ainslie Henderson’s beautiful stop-motion music video for James, and Kyra & Constanin’s enchanting animation featuring spherical animals.  Music videos feature strongly in this year’s selection, with Truman & Cooper’s moody film of lost teenage innocence; Josh Cole’s fast-paced story of a Manillan street kid; and Ian & Cooper’s promo for Joel Compass’s ‘Back to Me’, which won Best video at SXSW.  

A slick commercial for the Sunday Times directed by Us recreates iconic moments from film, music and art, while Kibwe Tavares’s beautiful CGI-infused trailer for ‘Jonah’ is the only movie trailer.  Donato Sansone promises to shock the audience with ‘GrotesquePhotobooth’.   

The 18 directors selected for the New Directors’ Showcase reel 2014 and their films are listed below;

Tarik Abdel-Gawad - Box

Alvise Avati - Beans

Alberto Belli - It’s Not Porn

Simon Bonde & Peder - Ghost of a Smile

Ian & Cooper - Joel Compass ‘Back To Me’

Josh Cole - Rudimental ‘Not Giving In’

Tripp Crosby - Conference Call in Real Life

Ainslie Henderson - Moving On

Vania Heymann - Walking Contest & Bob Dylan ‘Like A Rolling Stone’

Kyra & Constantin - Rollin’ Wild

Ed Morris - Cybersmile #dontretaliate

Tatia Pilieva - First Kiss

Donato Sansone - GrotesquePhotobooth

Emile Sornin - Disclosure ‘Grab Her’

Kibwe Tavares - Jonah

The Sacred Egg - Breach ‘Jack’

Truman & Cooper - Kid Wise ‘Hope’

Us - The Sunday Times ‘Icons’


The theme ‘Feel the Reel’, conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi creatives Weitgasser & Sattlecker, makes the Showreel the hero of the event, and is bought to life with a theatrical performance centering around the directors’ films.  The aesthetic of the show is themed around a stylized medical experiment environment: the NDS event is a huge experiment on many levels, with 2,300 ‘guinea pigs’ in the audience who will effectively test the emotional technology, and have their emotional data collected.

Studio XO’s XOX emotional wristband technology is instrumental in the experience of the audience watching the NDS reel.  Their emotional reaction to the reel will be measured by the wristbands, whilst the data is visualised on a transparent gauze covering the stage around the screen as the reel plays.  Marshmallow Laser Feast are co-directing the show with Studio XO and overseeing data visualization, which will be an artistic interpretation of the audiences’ emotional data.

Saatchi & Saatchi creatives Weitgasser and Sattlecker have partnered with Juliette Larthe of PRETTYBIRD who brought together Studio XO, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and Berlin collective Elektropastete to create the innovative ‘Feel the Reel’ experience. The ‘feelthereel’ identity and logo have been created by Farrow, and the soundscape created specially for the event has been composed by Finn McNicholas.

Saatchi & Saatchi Creatives Weitgasser and Sattlecker commented:  “This year we decided to break with convention and make the directors' showreel the hero of the NDS event in Cannes.  Studio XO's biometric, sensory wristbands felt like the perfect tool to do this. Together with PRETTYBIRD, Studio XO and Marshmallow Laser Feast we embarked on the constantly evolving journey of creating this year's event. It was a super exciting project and it felt like a real privilege to be able to be part of this huge collective of creative minds.”

Juliette Larthe of PRETTYBIRD is the Producer of the live show, which uses new and unique technology developed by Studio XO’s Nancy Tilbury and Benjamin Males, partnered with visuals created by Marshmallow Laser Feast  (under the creative direction of Robin McNicholas) and programmed by Elektropastete.  Studio XO’s sensory wristbands will capture the emotions of the Cannes audience as they view the Showreel, and project them back to them in real time as moving pixels on a gauze surrounding the stage, whilst the Showreel plays.  The wristband is a silicon band containing electronics that draw biometric data out of the body by listening to its ebb and flow.  The wristbands measure levels of excitement in the host, magenta being the highest state of arousal, and an LED light embedded in the wristband moves through a spectrum of colours indicating that the wearer is having an ‘episode’ and experiencing a wide range of emotions.  Information is processed and broadcast wirelessly.

Benjamin Males of Studio XO commented:  “We’re giving the body a vocabulary by drawing emotion from the body.  Everything we do at XO is about emotion.  We’re able to tap into our souls and get a direct feed of our emotional response”.

The event will challenge the senses and heighten the wearer’s experience of the reel whilst starting a dialog around wearable technology and its intimate use of data in the next decade.  Nancy Tilbury of Studio XO added:  “Through projects such as ‘Feel the Reel’ it enables Studio XO to fulfill our manifesto of making science fiction science fact”.

Juliette Larthe of PRETTYBIRD commented “To work on the prolific and unmatchable New Directors’ Showcase for the 4th year running is an honour and a privilege, Saatchi & Saatchi again prove how they have the foresight to break boundaries and help create new understandings in our ever changing landscape of what we think we know. Saatchi & Saatchi has wholeheartedly embraced ‘new’ unchartered ground, giving first breath to the immersive and collective vision of the new creative artists and innovative entrepreneurs working in experiential and entertainment as a business model. Working in this arena is not for the faint hearted and I have been amazed yet again by the fearless courage the Saatchi & Saatchi team has embraced with the groundbreaking ideas we bring to them.”

MLF commented:  “This is the fourth year running that we’ve been asked back to direct the NDS through PRETTYBIRD, we’re flattered by this and proud of our past achievement. Collaborating this time with Studio XO is exciting and promises to be a game changer by measuring how people feel while watching the show, and how this can feed back to what we do as show directors with XO working with us on every aspect, from the moment the audience enter the Palais. It has been a revelation for us, and hopefully it will be for the audience and directors.”

This year the Saatchi & Saatchi NDS is coming to London, and there will also be events in Milan, New York and Shanghai.  On Thursday 3rd July there will be a screening of the Showreel in the Barbican cinema, London, followed by a panel discussion chaired by the reel’s curator Andy Gulliman.

Saatchi & Saatchi would like to give a big thanks to Norma Clarke, Project Director, Global Brand Team.  After 12 years of producing the New Directors’ Showcase, and 30 years of service at Saatchi & Saatchi, she has decided to leave the agency and move on to new challenges. She will be greatly missed.




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