Friday afternoon I saw the 2013 British Arrow Awards, playing at the YBCA this weekend. It's a 72-minute compilation of British TV, online & cinema ads. It was pretty intense watching wall-to-wall commercials for over an hour. The public awareness campaigns were especially direct, emotional & memorable. A 2-minute story depicting a cancer patient was so upsetting that I couldn't focus for the next couple of minutes. A campaign against shark finning is 45 seconds of extremely grisly footage.
Second-for-second, the program probably has higher production values than any feature film. I'd love to know the total cost of all the ads in the compilation. The gorgeous photography for a spreadable butter commercial made me glad I was seeing it on a movie screen. A promotion for the National Lottery looks like a remake of Apocolypse Now, & a madcap spot for deodorant seems to have as many stunts as an Indiana Jones movie. Doing more than cameos, Hugh Jackman, Kevin Bacon & Kiefer Sutherland happily parody themselves in several ads. Often I could not tell what was being advertised until the end, & I had no clue what a fake commercial for a creepy humanoid robot was all about.
The compilation starts with an edgy & beautiful title sequence, in which brand names appear as tattoos on the bodies of a nude woman & a snake. It probably deserves its own award.
§ 2013 British Arrows Awards
2013, 72 min, digital
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Feb 13–16, 2014