Paralympics Ad ‘Meet the Superhumans’ Powers to Film Craft Grand Prix

Tom Tagholm's gritty triumph

Headshot of Tim Nudd

CANNES, France—The athletes are superhuman. And so was the director.

Tom Tagholm's brilliant "Meet the Superhumans" commercial for the 2012 Paralympic Games won the Grand Prix in the Film Craft Lions category here tonight for its skillful direction and gritty, powerful storytelling.

Produced in-house by British TV network Channel 4, the 90-second spot uses intensely immersive camerawork and the blaring soundtrack of Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think" to create a potent atmosphere of struggle, defiance, camaraderie and elation. Much of the ad is action footage from actual Paralympic test events. But halfway through, the footage shifts away from the track, the gym and the pool to a war zone exploding with bombs and gunfire; a highway with a car flipping over; and a hospital as an expectant mother holds her belly worryingly.

These are the origin stories of the Paralympic athletes, moments of accident and anguish that are then redeemed in the furious redemption of high-level sport. The tagline is: "Meet the Superhumans."

Tagholm spoke about the spot last year. "We really didn't want to shoot around the particular physical attributes of these athletes and their disabilities," he said. "We wanted to absolutely embrace all of that—their stance, the ways they've adapted to their sport, the ways that they use their bodies. It's very much 'Here we are!' y'know? There's no tiptoeing around anything."

The spot also won gold in the separate Films Lions contest.

The U.S. picked up a pair of Gold Lions in Film Craft. MJZ in Los Angeles won one for Old Spice's "Muscle Music," and Wieden + Kennedy in New York won the other for Southern Comfort's "Beach," which also won a silver.

Click below to see winners lists, including all U.S. winners, from the four categories celebrated at tonight's awards ceremony—Film, Film Craft, Titanium & Integrated and Branded Content & Entertainment.

Winners Lists: Titanium & Integrated, Film, Film Craft and Branded Content

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.