The three winning videos of The Cut, a competition to create new official music videos for classic Elton John songs were screened at the Cannes Film Festival today (May 22nd) and on YouTube - with Sir Elton John announcing that he has been "humbled" by the process of making new videos for his songs.
New videos for Tiny Dancer, directed by Max Weiland, Rocket Man, directed by Majid Adin, and Bennie and the Jets, directed by Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill, were revealed at a star-studded screening in Cannes which followed global competition The Cut - supported by Sir Elton John, YouTube, AKQA, and Pulse Films – to create official videos for the tracks by the best in young and undiscovered creative talent.
The videos adhered to their briefs - animation for Rocket Man; choreography for Bennie and the Jets; live action concept for Tiny Dancer. Majid Adin's poignant video for Rocket Man draws on his personal experiences as an Iranian refugee making his way to England. A fine art university graduate working in animation production, Adin travelled across Europe during the 2015 refugee crisis, spending time in the infamous Calais Jungle camp before being granted asylum in the UK. Majid partnered with animation director Stephen McNally to realise a powerful and human story for Rocket Man.
The Bennie and the Jets video (above) has been interpreted by directors Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill as a futuristic talent show. The set and central structure takes its inspiration from Fritz Lang’s 1927 science-fiction film, Metropolis, while the synchronised choreography is inspired by Busby Berkeley films, and the black and white aesthetic is a nod to the classic Hollywood era.
Max Weiland’s winning video for Tiny Dancer is a tribute to Los Angeles, following a large cast of disparate characters, who are all connected through their love of the song as it plays through their radios.
The Cannes premiere included on-stage discussions with songwriters Elton John and Bernie Taupin, moderated by Spike Lee, with all the winners in attendance. The contest was launched in the 50th anniversary year of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s writing partnership, with the aim to give aspiring creatives a unique platform to showcase their work for these much-loved hits, as well as giving the songs new meanings in 2017.
“I’ve been moved and amazed by these re-imaginings of our songs and pretty humbled by the process overall," Elton John has said. "The future of creativity is clearly collaborative, fusing art and technology and it’s been fantastic to open up our work to the next generation of creative talent and to share that process with the world on YouTube.”
YouTube’s Vivien Lewit says: “The Cut shares so many hallmarks of YouTube’s ethos - it’s about openly inspiring ideas, providing a platform for emerging talent and people sharing their creativity with the world. But the heart and soul of this project are Elton John and Bernie Taupin - who brought their vision to life and are encouraging a new generation to express their versions of the legendary songs they wrote and recorded. And these videos are truly wonderful."
The search for the video creators was launched in December 2016 with entries received from over 50 countries worldwide. Shortlists of potential winners were then whittled down by YouTube mentors that were assigned to each video category: Kurt Hugo Schneider for Tiny Dancer, Parris Goebel for Bennie and the Jets, and PES for Rocket Man. The mentors joined an all-star judging panel: Barry Jenkins, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Melina Matsoukas, as well as Bernie and Elton themselves to select the three final winners in February 2017. Once chosen, the winners were given the opportunity to realise their music videos and granted $10,000 for future creative endeavours.