Go Home, Hollywood: New Zealand Just Won The Award For Best Safe-Driving Video

January 7, 2014

To some folks, the holiday season ended last week. To others, the fun has just begun.

In New Orleans, Venice, and elsewhere around the globe, Carnival season kicked off yesterday. Football fans are gearing up for the playoffs. And movie buffs are eagerly watching actors, directors, and producers wage not-so-silent campaigns for Golden Globes, Oscars, and other coveted tchotchkes. 

The public service announcement embedded above isn't technically competing for those awards, but it's just as deserving as some films we could name. Created by the New Zealand Transport Agency, it's meant to encourage drivers to slow down and think about their actions.

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What's so brilliant about the clip is that it doesn't rely on high-tech special effects (though there are some beautiful and frightening touches). It doesn't rely on an orchestra bloated with heartbreaking violins, either. It's just a very good concept, carried out by two thoroughly believable actors.

The set-up is simple, involving a split-second in time when one bad decision changes the lives of complete strangers. The creators ask, "What if you could stop that moment and let the strangers talk to one another? What would they say? Could anything be resolved?"

It counters a tendency that most motorists have -- a tendency to think that we're the best driver on the road, that everyone else is an idiot, and that the world revolves around us. In that sense, it reminds us of David Foster Wallace's "This is Water" speech, delivered at Kenyon College in 2005 and subsequently turned into an outstanding short film

As the folks at Mashable and Reddit point out, the New Zealand clip should also remind us of this PSA from Thailand, which employs the same concept. But as any artist knows, just because something's been done before doesn't mean that it can't be done again -- and better.


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