Killer Creativity: Saatchi New Directors Showcase Shows The Artful Side Of A Dark, Dark World

Richard Dawkins introduces a reel full of dark gems.


If art is visual a representation of a particular moment in time, then, if the work on display at Saatchi & Saatchi’s annual New Directors Showcase is any indication, there is a lot of darkness in our world that’s proving to be a creative goldmine. Part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the Showcase is a collection of work from the most promising newcomers, as chosen by the agency network’s leading global creatives.


Saatchi worldwide digital creative director Tom Eslinger says this year’s reel of work is among the most eclectic the agency has put together, with “smash your face polarizing stuff” making it to the reel. The work ranges from widely varied animation styles to highly provocative films (like Agent Provocateur “Fleurs Du Mal”), and a lot of murderous tyranny (see: Antony and the Johnsons “Cut the World”, Biting Elbows “Bad Motherfucker”, Grand Theft Auto “Rise” and “Pulled Over”, a short film with a hilarious approach to an unfortunate end).

Reel highlights included “Cut the World” from Nabil, a dark melodrama featuring Willem Dafoe; Young Empires “White Doves” from Miles Jay, a lushly shot tale of escape from suppression; ChildLine “It Follows Me Around” from Ben Liam Jones, a PSA that packs an emotional gut-punch; and “Follow the Frog” from Max Joseph, a humorous film that suggests more reasonable ways to make conscious consumer decisions.

When deciding on which work to include on New Directors Showcase, Eslinger says the selection committee looks for work that the agency hopes people will be influenced by and will stand up against the previous 23 years of work chosen by Saatchi.

He says the decidedly darker tone of the reel (indeed, only two pieces could be considered funny–a stark departure from 2012’s selections–with an additional two that could be considered “light”) certainly reflects the times, though it was hardly a conscious decision.


“Look at what’s at the box office and the TV shows that are popular. Who’d have believed five years ago that three of the top shows in America would be about serial killers and meth dealers? A lot of that stuff is getting made and I think it seeps into the minds of newer directors and they start playing that stuff back through their lens,” he says. “Sometimes the darker stuff is more emotionally polarizing.”

Equally polarizing was the Showcase’s introductory theatrics. Always a surprise and audience favorite, this year’s intro featured Professor Richard Dawkins (author of The Selfish Gene and coiner of the phrase “meme”) discussion of how genes and memes survive while being replicated before transcending into a Technicolor, 8-bit, acid-trip of a visual display that Eslinger called “very contemporary and of the minute.” Others might have called it weird.

See all the work in the slideshow above.

About the author

Rae Ann Fera is a writer with Co.Create whose specialty is covering the media, marketing, creative advertising, digital technology and design fields. She was formerly the editor of ad industry publication Boards and has written for Huffington Post and Marketing Magazine