Paolo "Slim" Grippa is a director at Darling Films in Johannesburg. With roots in graphic design and art direction, Slim started his advertising career working as an art director in ad agencies both locally and abroad. Much of his work seeks to create tension through the juxtaposition of contradicting ideas and emotions, with his process becoming therapeutic to understanding and investigating his own psyche and, inevitably, the characters he depicts becoming psychological self-portraits. This continual challenge of self-discovery and experimentation with mediums is what drives him artistically in his career directing commercials for 17 years - focusing on capturing evocative, character-driven stories across a diverse range of genres - whether absurd comedy or poignant empathy. Coming from an agency background, the concept is always key to his filmmaking.
His awards list as an art-director include achieving bronze and a year later silver in the Cannes Young Creative competition. Local Loerie awards include a grand prix as well as a CLIO, Silver Cannes Lion awards and TV Grand Prix at Portoroz (Festival of New Europe), and within his first year of directing, Slim achieved first and third place in the prestigious Cfp-Shots Young Director’s Award at Cannes.
Locally, Slim works with the good people at Darling Films and makes art in his insomniac hours. He craves being taken on an emotional journey through story, and here sheds light on some of the South African work that has recently fed this craving...
Volkswagen T-Roc - 'Mandisa'
Agency: Ogilvy Cape Town
Production House: Bioscope Films
Director: Fausto Becatti
One in a series of films by VW, this story follows the rise of Mandisa Mfeka, South Africa’s first female, black combat pilot. It’s a trend of brands piggy-backing actual success stories - yet I never felt like I was watching an advert for a product. The defiant power of Mandisa’s character and classic hero’s journey is captivating throughout. The spot is all-encompassing: the visual narrative, performance and sound design capture the empowerment of the character - an uplifting human story that’s an inspirational example of the potential of South Africans to overcome adversity.
Chicken Licken - 'They Also Crave It'
Agency: Joe Public
Production House: Romance Films
Director: Terence Neale
This spot came out after months of national lockdown and felt like a really welcome two-minute respite from the ongoing Covid-19 bombardment. It’s a (much needed) frivolous, entertaining and well-crafted piece of character narrative, a charming story that follows the magical ups and downs of the classic 'ET' journey. But one with an unexpected, tongue-in-cheek conclusion - a tone that is expected from this brand. I particularly loved the details that build the alien’s character, weaving through intentional misdirection while establishing moments of underlying foreboding.
Hype Magazine & Tears Foundation - #blamenomore - 'A Call for Change'
Agency: TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris Johannesburg
Production House: Darling Films
Director: Zee Ntuli
Damn. This is such a tough one to talk about as it’s such a real issue, not only locally, but globally. And it really needs to be spoken about, but isn’t. The idea digs deep into the issue of rape and woman abuse - beyond the obvious inhuman act, and into the psychology surrounding it - that of actually having the gall to blame the victim for the crime. The courageous concept and honest execution of this spot punched me in the gut. Yes it’s shocking, no you don’t want to see it, but I’m not sure how else you get people to wake the f*** up. What must have been a tough script to execute, was handled with such sensitivity: from the blocking of action and the timing of camera moves, to the misdirection and eventual reveal of self-abuse. And not to mention the heart-breaking, ingenious performance of Mamarumo Marokane. As hard as it is to watch, this piece makes me privileged to be in the midst of local filmmakers like Zee.
Sowetan - 'Know Your Place'
Agency: House of Brave
Production House: Rudeboy
Director: Mpho Twala
This piece for the Sowetan newspaper just hits home. It’s a simple and effective reminder of how far our country has come. The title device really nails the mindset that defined the shift from where we were, to where we are now as a nation. It’s a proud reminder of South Africa’s journey of self-discovery that has led us to embrace our unique identity.
Toya Delazy - 'Funani'
Production House: Egg Films
Director: Kyle Lewis
I felt the need to include this music video as a great example of the distinctive visuals currently coming out of South Africa. There’s been a definite growth in the quality and appreciation of music videos over the last few years. Kyle is one of the directors pushing the diverse narratives and showcasing talented local musicians. His striking music videos help give local artists the global voice and recognition they deserve. And you never know what to expect from him, except that it’ll be yet another visual feast.