In our current era of YouTube and Facebook madness, seemingly most (if not all) media is created with the notion of establishing an online presence and exploiting the medium for further attention. Television channels such as MuchMusic and MTV rarely play music videos anymore, forcing most artists to adjust their promotional efforts to the Internet. Similarly, TV is quickly becoming increasingly difficult for advertising campaigns, given the fancy DVRs that allow viewers to fast-forward, or even skip past, commercials.
While the rapid onset of the internet has turned into a broad mashing of digital content with very little focus, it also allows for creativity output that wouldn't have been suitable for mainstream television. Commercials are no longer confined to 30-second blocks and music videos no longer face censorship. Both formats even approach short film status on occasion.
TIFF's quarterly Packaged Goods program celebrates the best in advertising and music videos, specifically turning an eye to the ways in which artists have capitalized on the Internet as a way to get a leg-up on competition and draw in fresh consumers. Ranging from global advertising campaigns to groundbreaking music videos, featuring popular viral videos and works that have flown under the radar, the program has a little something for any media junkie, or those that appreciate some visual eye candy.
Despite the plethora of content out there, TIFF programmer Rae Ann Fera has managed to sift through the white noise, assembling a package to celebrate the highlights of 2012 by way of Packaged Goods: The Year's Best.
While some of the commercials are hilarious, such as Bodyform's "Richard" spot from the UK, others evoke emotion and introspection, like Expedia's "Find Your Understanding" or Benetton's "Unhate" campaigns.
On the music side, Willow's "Sweater" merges projector technology and a treadmill, resulting in a dazzling single-shot video, while M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" throws convention out the window, featuring the young Sri Lankan pop star in the Middle East amidst Arab boys and their fancy toys. Particularly effective is "Hey Jane" from Spiritualized, a 10-minute piece about a transgendered woman that plays like a short film with an incredible narrative.
Entertaining and thoughtfully pieced together, The Year's Best program is a sight to behold, capturing the cultural climate and context for 2012, proving that digital media has a place on the big screen.
Packaged Goods: The Year's Best screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, December 12 at 7:00pm. (TIFF)