Spurlock causes stir at Sundance over product placement

He found fame baiting America's most famous brand – but in his latest film Morgan Spurlock has decided to embrace the corporate world.

The director who gorged on fast food in Supersize Me premiered his new film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah at the weekend. The film shines a light on the dizzying extent of product placement in television and movies, and shows Spurlock asking firms for a fee for name-checking their products, was entirely financed in this way.

Introducing the film to audiences while he was clad in a suit covered with logos from all 15 of his sponsors, Spurlock warned: "This film will ruin film and TV for you for ever. I do hope it will start a conversation related to marketing and advertising."

Spurlock also announced that he had amended its name to Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

For the uninitiated, Pom Wonderful is a brand of pomegranate juice, and just to hammer the point home, free bottles were being handed out to festival-goers at the premiere.

Just as he investigated the fast-food industry in Super Size Me by gorging himself on McDonald's, Spurlock felt the best way to make his point about branding in the movie industry was to unashamedly seek out companies who would finance his film.

The director takes viewers behind the scenes at his meetings with potential sponsors as they thrash out a deal, providing a fascinating insight at just how blockbusters such as Iron Man and Transformers are tied in with their corporate deals. He told the audience that he and his team had approached about 500 companies, most of whom refused – but that no one would have been off limits. "We tried to get BP on board, because if anyone needs an image makeover at the moment, it's BP," Spurlock said.

Sundance audiences certainly got both the joke and the point behind it, with the movie receiving a warm reception. The trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter called it "funny and entertaining". There were rumours that festival organisers was annoyed that bottles of Pom Wonderful were being handed out; the brand isn't one of their corporate sponsors. If true, they had just unwittingly confirmed Spurlock's point.

Other documentaries are also making waves at Sundance and the British director Kevin Macdonald's Life In A Day is one of the most eagerly awaited. The movie is a 90-minute glimpse of what life is like on Earth, from Australia to Zambia, on a single day. Macdonald, best known for the mountaineering drama-documentary Touching The Void, received 80,000 submissions from the public via YouTube after pleading for entries through the Sundance Institute. The day in question was 24 July, 2010. The result is billed as " an unique cinematic experience, in beautiful and harrowing honesty, of what it is to be alive."

Another British documentary also gathering strong reviews was Project Nim. In it James Marsh, the director of the award-winning Man On Wire, turned his attention to a 1973 scientific experiment which examined what would happen if a chimpanzee, Nim, was only raised by humans for the first five years of his life. It was hoped that the chimp would learn enough language to be able to communicate his feelings – and forever break down the barriers between humans and our nearest relative.

The experiment didn't pan out; this is the story of Nim and what happened to him. In Marsh's own words, the experiment was "profoundly upsetting".

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living