Brand Film Festival New York 2018: Best of the Best

The judges have spoken. These brand films represent the next generation of marketing storytellers, brands, agencies, and craftspeople who are leading the way in their fields.

Best Short-Form Documentary

Title: From Dream to Reality
Client: Samsung
Production Company: Hungry Man Productions
Date aired: December 2017
Country: U.S.

Samsung took a ride off the beaten track this year with a mini-documentary that aims to inspire viewers to pick up their phones and hit record.

Collaborating with Hungry Man Productions, the film features the epic journey of Max Joseph and his alternative method of storytelling. With the help of YouTube star Casey Neistat and a Samsung smartphone, Joseph’s dream became a reality. From Dream to Reality illustrates that with dedication, creative collaboration, and a determination to overcome setbacks, something amazing can happen.

The film’s rapid pace innovatively mimics the rate in which Joseph’s dream grew from a test run in the middle of the desert to a fully realized zoetrope on multiple walls across various cities. This "dare to dream" campaign generated over a million views on YouTube.

Best Direction/Short Form

Title: Stories Worth Telling
Client: Princess Cruises
Agency: CNN Courageous Studio (production), PHD (media)
Date aired: September 1, 2017
Country: U.S.

Stories Worth Telling is part of a series of branded content created through a partnership between Princess Cruises and CNN’s Courageous Studio. Key travel locations are explored with Scandinavian food being the focal point of this highly styled film.

It features a journey through Swedish culinary tradition with executive chef KC Wallberg walking you through his unique blend of Swedish and modern cuisine in an almost therapeutic fashion. An emphasis on fine dining is captured via picturesque shots focusing on natural, locally sourced ingredients accompanied by elegant classical music.

The prospect of becoming part of Wallberg’s "honorable" experience by riding as a guest on Princess Cruises is a desirable one to say the least. The film was viewed almost 200,000 times on Facebook.

Best Short-Form Fiction – Series

Title: Bite Size Horror Film Festival
Client: MarsM&M’s, Snickers, Starburst, Skittles
Agency: Fox Networks Group, Starcom (media), and All City Content Studio and Fox Digital Studio (production)
Date aired: October 1, 2017
Country: U.S.

To keep their brands at the forefront this past fall, Mars teamed up with Fox Networks Group to create the adrenaline inducing series Bite Size Horror.

With Halloween being the biggest time of the year for bite-sized candy, these two-minute films directed by up-and-coming Hollywood horror talent were the perfect fit. The ads had significant exposure, airing at high-profile sporting events such as the American League Division Series. Additionally, they played on Fox and FX during the premieres of Ghosted and American Horror Story.

The chilling ads were the highest rated in the program premieres, scoring best in viewer retention, and each brand experienced huge leaps in social media activity. Skittles alone saw an increase of more than 750%. The films received an abundance of praise and a top publisher crowned them "the best Halloween ads in years."

Best Direction/Long Form

Title: Breaking2
Client: Nike
Agency: Dirty Robber (production) with National Geographic Studios and Harmonica PR (PR)
Date aired: September 20, 2017 
Country: U.S.

Nike and National Geographic demonstrated the power of branded storytelling with Breaking2, a 55-minute film documenting Nike’s ambitious two-year project: a moonshot attempt to break the two-hour barrier for running a marathon.

The film follows three elite runners from their homes in three African countries, to tests carried out by scientists in an attempt to push the limits of human potential. After rigorous training, commitment, and phenomenal research, the race commenced in Italy. The less quantifiable components, the heart and the mind, are the facets all humans can relate to in a story that speaks to Nike’s core philosophy and values – inspiring everyday people to push their limits.

The documentary was aired on National Geographic, a brand that often explores the power of human potential. Breaking2 was broadcast to 67 countries, generating over 1.6 million views on YouTube alone where it can be seen in 34 languages.

Best Sound Design

Title: Savor.Wavs
Client: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Agency: PrettyBird (production), CAA Marketing (advertising)
Date aired: July 19, 2017
Country: U.S.

This past summer, Chipotle and Wu-Tang Clan’s multiplatinum hip-hop legend RZA came together and released Savor.Wavs as part of an immersive digital campaign that reinterprets Chipotle ingredients as music and responsive visuals. The video celebrates the brand’s commitment to using 51 real ingredients in its food.

Viewers join RZA on his elaborate ideation process, whereby each flavor encountered is followed by one of 51 musical stems created for customers to infinitely compose their own order. Each individual taste powers an instrument within the animated world of RZA’s mind. Through the power of taste, a delicious burrito is eventually built alongside a beautiful symphonic track.

Various artists partnered with the brand to discover the sound of their favorite meal, highlighting the power of music and food to bring people closer together. Since its release, 8.5 million people visited Savor.Wavs, delivering 3.5 million digital offers.

Best Short Form – Fiction

Title: Taking Flight
Client: Radio Flyer
Production company: Moonbot Studios
Date aired: January 2017 
Country: U.S.

In celebration of Radio Flyer’s centennial birthday, Emmy winner Taking Flight pays a playful tribute to inspirational inventor Antonio Pasin. Directed by Academy Award winner Brandon Oldenburg, Taking Flight features inquisitive Tony, whose mundane day with his grandpa takes an adventurous turn, developing into a larger-than-life journey through the jungle.

Simply orchestrated by his grandpa’s imagination and an old wagon, the pair narrowly escapes wild monkeys and battles against aliens. The wagon even manages to encapsulate Tony’s stringent father, igniting the fond memories of voyages he, too, embarked on throughout his childhood. Consequently, with the power of imagination all three generations take flight to the moon, fueled by laughter and joy – a suitable ending capturing the commitments of the Chicago-based family company.

Taking Flight received a 2017 Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Award, more than 20 awards and accolades from international and local film festivals, and over 70,000 hits on YouTube.  

Best Cinematography

Title: Woza
Client: Mami Wata Surf
Agency: Pantera & Co (production), Anonymous Content, and Mami Wata in-house (advertising)
Date aired: April 10, 2017
Country: South Africa

Mami Wata Surf’s film Woza, meaning "come" in Zulu, tells the story of an African surfer who is being seduced by Mami Wata, the African water spirit.

The enchanting film features 22-year-old Transkei surfer Avuyile Ndamase, who, amidst the chaos of city life, is able to find peace in the water. When Ndamase questions his fate under the ocean’s spell, an African legend about the water’s spiritual powers to change you "in strange ways" is recalled by a woman’s voice.

Mami Wata Surf was founded by a trio of creatively inclined friends, first thought up as they stood on the shores of Cape Town’s Kommetjie beach in April 2015. The trio believe some of the world’s best waves are in Africa, and this film looks to capture the diversity within the surfing community from a refreshing angle focusing on the more spiritual side of the sport.

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