Canal+ Dabbles in Dark Humor as Film Festival Sponsor

BETC Paris brings 'Papa' to life

He's not dead yet! Or is he?

For the Clermont Short Film Festival, where it's a primary partner, Canal+ has released "Papa." This is as much an ad as something that feels like an entry to the festival itself. Developed with BETC Paris, “Papa” casts its gaze on a family in hospital, where the patriarch barely clings to life. 

A grandson is encouraged to play his favorite violin arrangement, but every time he starts—and he's slaughtering that piece—Papa's heart stops. The stop and start of the heart rate monitor throws the family into understandable turmoil. It's fun, watching them try and put the pieces together. 

When the situation hits a fever pitch, the camera zeroes in on the little girl nobody's noticed, sitting at grandpa's side. At strategic moments, she is sliding the heart rate sensor on and off her grandfather's finger, watching the sparks fly—a silent Disaster Girl who will never enter posterity.

"Short format. Big drama," the work ends. "Canal+ has always supported short films."

Short films sit in a liminal space between advertising—which has little time to convey its message, and must rely on a big lexicon of symbolic language and tricks to cross that sea of indifference—and long films and series. It's hard to know why you should watch a short film, or even drum up a desire for them.

In an efficient two and a half minutes, "Papa" celebrates a couple of the strategies that, used well, elevate this genre to art. The first is sleight of hand: A light, almost sadistic amusement that will captivate interest just enough to distract viewers. In this case, will the family make the connection between the violin and the flatlining? 

The second is payoff. Short film isn't advertising. It has nothing to sell you that would make an emotional investment feel like it's working toward something. And it's also not a longer-form story, so its not even worth getting to know these peopless names, adding them to your nighttime prayer roster. There has to be a payoff, something to reward you for that time. In this case, the payoff feels like a punchline, which is good enough.

We'll probably forget this work next week. But it's taught us a couple of things about how this art form works, and that’s something worth taking with us.

"Papa" will screen at the Clermont Short Film Festival, and will also be available on Canal+'s streaming platform.


Brand: Canal+
Brand Managers: Emilie Pietrini, Celine Pontygayot, Valerie Lubert
Agency: BETC Paris
Agency Managers: Bertille Toledano, Mathilde Lancon, Adrien Bletton
Chief Creative Offcier: Stephane Xiberras
Associate Creative Director: Chrystel Jung
Copywriters: Chrystel Jung, Dario Fau
Head of TV Production: Karim Naceur
TV Producer: Leslie Levy
Production Company: Blue Paris
Director: Dario Fau
Producer: Julie Michelin
Production Director: Margot Le Moel
Post Production Company: Mopart
Sound Company: Hercules

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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