Anne: »What do you dream about?«

Sheldon: »What do you mean? We can’t dream.«

Anne: »Of course you can. You just make it up.«

At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival filmmaker Spike Jonze premiered his latest movie – I’m Here, as part of the first-ever Opening Night’s Shorts Program at the festival. Jonze is an American director and producer, whose work includes music videos (Sabotage by Beastie Boys, Cannonball by The Breeders, videos for R.E.M., Bjork, Fatboy Slim …), commercials (Lamp for Ikea), film and television. He is best known for his collaborations with writer Charlie Kaufman, which include the 1999 film Being John Malkovich and the 2002 film Adaptation.

His recent short move I’m here is a love story about two robots (Anne and Sheldon) living in a Los Angeles where humans and robots coexist. The plot is based on children’s book The Giving Tree, and the man character is named after the author Sheldon Silverstein (Slovenian readers click here).

Since the movie could be watched online I would suggest you dedicate 30 minutes of your spare time and watch this miniature gem – you won’t be dissapointed. It’s short and sweet, simple and engaging, moving and uplifting.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the movie is its production – it was produced by Absolut Vodka and advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York. Someone might expect a similar movie to the BMW‘s The Hire series (I will analyze the BMW movies shortly), but that’s not the case. In fact there’s no sign of Absolut vodka at all inside the movie, not a glimpse of classic product placement. It was produced and distributed as an art film rather than a long-form commercial. Well, at least the long title of the movie is I’m Here – A Love Story in an Absolut World.

“This is an emotional expression of the brand,” said Anna Malmhake, VP of global marketing at Absolut. “None of us could see what a shot of the vodka would have added.”

Sheldon

“It was a pretty incredible opportunity,” said Spike Jonze. “Absolut didn’t give me any requirements to make a movie that had anything to do with vodka. They just wanted me to make something that was important to me, and let my imagination take me wherever I wanted. … I got to make my first love story.”

The movie is a part of the Absolut’s largerIn an Absolut world campaign, which has the tag “Ordinary is no place to be.” The campaign began in 2007 and as a part of the campaign the company posted various, often fanciful scenarios of what the target audience might think would constitute a perfect, or “Absolut”, reality.

Absolut is known for its long-running advertising campaign, created by advertising agency TBWA, based on the distinctive bottle shape. Having started in 1980 with photographer Steven Bronstein, and with more than 1500 ads, the ad campaign is the longest running ever. The company has also been supporting artists for decades. Previous collaborations include those with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Helmut Newton.

The first Absolut Vodka ad in the form in which it has survived to date

So, what is the role of Absolut and other corporations in an absolut world? To generate profits or to generate profits and sometimes surprise us with small “gifts”, such as the movie I’m Here? Those gifts would consequently generate a lot of PR buzz or increase brand value, so the corporate goals would be achieved. But what about us: the consumers and moviegoers? Should our perception of the movie be different just because it was produced by a division of a giant company Pernod Ricard? Or should we thank them because they gave Spike Jonze the opportunity to make his first love story? I believe we could see more collaborations between corporations and filmmakers – and that’s not necessary a bad sign.

Anne & Sheldon in an Absolut world

Anne: »I’m not asking for this.«

Sheldon (trying to give Anne his leg): »I don’t care!«

Anne: »Don’t I have a choice?«

Sheldon: »No, you don’t. Because I had a dream last night. And in my dream you need the leg and everyone in the world was trying to give you their leg and I really wanted you to have mine. And in my dream you picked my leg and made me so happy. And it was the best dream in the history of dreams.«

Absolutely brilliant!