‘Open Your Eyes’

Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase highlights the issue of gender diversity within directing.

This year, the iconic Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors’ Showcase (NDS) celebrates its 27th year at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity by shining a light on the current gender imbalance within directing.

Partnering with MPC, the show will celebrate creativity and innovation, providing a global platform for talent in filmmaking, showcasing some of the most exciting new global directorial talent and presenting it to an audience of more than 2,000 Cannes Lions delegates at the Grand Théâtre Lumière in the Palais des Festivals.

Renowned for its emphasis on groundbreaking technologies and live theatrical spectacles, this year the NDS turns its attention to the issue of gender parity between male and female commercial directors and asks the audience to ‘open their eyes’ and acknowledge the industry-wide problem.

Kate Stanners, Chairwoman and Global Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi said, “This year we decided to put the issue of gender diversity at the heart of NDS and use it as a platform for this very needed conversation. As a creative director I’m very conscious of the need for diversity within directing as it ensures a variety of voices and stories. Statistically, female commercial directors make up less than 7%* and every year we’re finding we’re confronted by the same challenge of finding female directorial talent to showcase. With the goal of achieving the most amount of female directors on the reel this year, we cast the net wider than ever before and dishearteningly discovered that however hard we looked there is an imbalance in talent out there.”

Lizie Gower, managing director and founder of Academy Films, added, “One of the main reasons why there aren’t enough female directors is that women are self-selecting themselves out of it as a career. As an industry-wide problem we need an industry-wide solution and to encourage more women into the role.”

To find the featured directors, a two-fold judging process was defined. Made up of two panels: one internal and one external - both panels were formed with an equal number of female and male judges.

An internal group of Saatchi & Saatchi network creative directors first reviewed all received entries and produced a shortlist of talent of which the second group then selected the final directors for this year’s reel. In order to prevent an unconscious bias during the selection process, the names of the directors were removed from their applications.

Made up of key industry players, the second panel of judges included: Kai-Lu Hsiung, Juliette Larthe, Alma Har'el, Sara Dunlop, Caroline Bartleet, Anandi Peiris, James Studholme, Fergus Brown, Kibwe Tavares, Richard Skinner, Davud Karbassioun, Andy Gulliman and Nik Powell.

New to this year, the showcase is being produced in partnership with Oscar winning creative studio MPC. The studio has partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi across the entire showcase, including expanding its search footprint into untapped industries and geographies, providing access to ground breaking production technologies and award-winning people and design expertise. In addition MPC will work with Saatchi & Saatchi to expand the reach of the NDS through a global roadshow following its premiere at Cannes.

Graham Bird, Chief Commercial Officer at MPC, said, ”Talent is the lifeblood of the creative industry. We are extremely excited to partner with Saatchi & Saatchi and the NDS as it is renowned as a platform to inspire and shine a spotlight on new directors. It is also a celebration of moving image and its ongoing power to engage and move audiences the world over”.

The late Paul Arden, a former Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Creative Director, presented the inaugural NDS and it quickly established a reputation for unearthing directing talent of the future in its pre-digital era. As the NDS continues to evolve, its commitment remains the same and today in an age of social media, smartphones and YouTube enabling anyone to set out their stall as a director, it provides the cut through to unearthing new talent. The show connects with and inspires future talent, providing a rare giveback to the industry whilst showing commitment to fostering new directing talent.  

With NDS alumni including iconic directors Spike Jonze, Ringan Ledwidge and Jonathan Glazer, the showcase always represents an eclectic mix of commercials, short films, titles, animation and music promos.

The New Directors’ Showcase in Cannes will take place at the Grand Théâtre Lumière in the Palais des Festivals on Thursday 22nd June and will run for 70 minutes from 10am. 

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