Need to ‘Unravel’ a little’?

Unravel starewell

Since the earliest cave drawings discovered in the PyreneesMountains of southern France, to One Thousand and One Nights – a story so good it is fabled to have seduced the King and saved the famous storyteller Scheherazade’s life, to more recently Steve Jobs delivering persuasive keynotes, the ability to tell a good story is what has bound and divided humanity. The medium is now through Hollywood movies, snapchat stories, WeChat, and creative commercials but the intrinsic desire to understand the world through stories remains the same.

Clara Davis, an American expat and storytelling enthusiast, is trying to remind Shanghai of this innate human trait.  Earlier this year she created, Unravel, a live storytelling platform where individuals share their memories and experiences based on a given theme.  Live storytelling means there is no hiding behind Instagram filters, prepared statements, or edits, it’s just the person and their story laid bare to the public.  The platform is gaining traction despite, or perhaps because of, the raw and vulnerable nature of live storytelling.


Clara Davis, creator of Unravel  

The first event was held this February 2017 in District Bar off Wulumuqi and Yuyuan, a bar Davis opened in partnership with the Belgian brewery group Duvel Moortgat.  Seven volunteers took their respective turn on the small stage to share their prepared stories to a packed crowd of expats and Shanghai locals squeezedin the bar.  The theme of the first nightwas ‘Impressions’.  The turnout exceeded Davis’s expectations.

Riding on the high of this success, Davis moved forward and planned the next Unravel event for the end of March.  The second event was hosted at the poke cafe Little Catch.  Davis says she always intended to hold the event at different venues, allowing the storytelling platform to mix and mold to the city’s different neighborhoods.  She also wants to ensure the voices are coming from diverse backgrounds so she set up an email account ( for storytellers to pitch their stories this way,to assure she is reaching out beyond her network.

The theme for the second event was ‘The Line: Crossing it,walking it, toeing it’.  It dumped rain that night but a good crowd still filled up the brightly lit second story poke café.  This time six storytellers took the microphone and revealed a little bit about themselves to the interested attendees. There was plentiful seating and better sound this time, but the ability to captivate an audience is more than just having a perfect set up oreven an interesting story to share.

Unravel speaker

Photo credit: Keith Esposito

A central component of any good story is the individual’sability to craft the tale. “If you don’t take into account story telling techniques” Davis explains “you can lose the value of the story”. A narrative needs to have a natural flow, a clear beginning, middle and end.  People should certainly tell stories that are meaningful to them but also understand how to cater thecontent to the particular audience.  Davis hopes in the future there could be the opportunity for more experienced storytellers to share their expertise with novices interested in getting up onthe stage.

The interaction between the storytellers and audience isalso a component that intrigues Davis about live storytelling events.  Unlike watching a movie or listening to a podcast, the listener is an active participant in the story.  Davis commented, she enjoys watching the audiences’ reaction to the storyteller – how the audience laughs with, smirks,or cringes as the storytellers “give a piece of themselves”.  The purpose of the events are in some way as much about creating a space for people to share their stories, as they are also about people coming together for a brief moment to form a whole new story.

Unravel top view

Photo credit: Keith Esposito

The third event is already planned for April 27th at recent Shanghai transplant TRIBE.  The theme of the stories will be centered around ‘Chance’.  Davis is already going through pitches to select the next round of storytellers.  In some ways this topic is the most fitting to describe her own story.  Landing in Chengdu, China to teach English, the culture and energy of China rolled her one year into five going on six years.  Now, equipped with a masters’ degree and a few more years of China experience, she has launched one of the most popular storytelling platform in Shanghai to date.  Admittedly, she chuckles there was also a bit of good luck and chance that brought her to this point.

Like Davis continuing to weave her own narrative, the Unravel storytelling platform is in its formative stages.  From all perspectives though, storytellers and listeners, it is certainly a story worth taking part in.


China’s Leftover Women

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An evocative new film from cosmetics brand SK-II, produced by US production company TOOL of North America, and locally by PIG China, directed by Floyd Russ with creative ideas and strategy by agency Forsman & Bodenfors, highlights an emotionally charged phenomenon permeating modern Chinese society.  The film, which has received over 1 million views on Youku within 24 hours of its initial release, uncovers the plight of ‘leftover’ women – a term that has come into common usage in China in recent years to describe unmarried women – and challenges the unforgiving attitudes of their overbearing parents.

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China’s development steam train has brought immeasurable benefits but left a wake of social problems, including a chasm in values between conservative parents and their grown up children. This means having a career, being independent and choosing one’s own destiny, combined with the influence of western culture in which the sanctity of marriage continues to be eroded, has led to a major shift in attitude among China’s Generation Y.


Their parents however, raised in deeply conservative times, hold a staunch set of contrasting beliefs. Marriage is a central tenet of the all-important family unit. For them, it is not possible that a daughter could be happy, or sufficiently well off to lead a comfortable life without a husband, something she will find increasingly difficult to find after the age of twenty-five, when she will be deemed ‘over the hill’. Filial piety, a cornerstone of traditional Chinese values, dictates that your parents’ wishes and beliefs should be respected. They have been selfless in raising the child and it is the duty of the grown up child to pay them back.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 19.19.41People’s Park ‘Marriage Market’, Shanghai

The results of this generational divide are bizarre and depressing. A booming matchmaking industry plays out alongside ‘marriage markets’ across the country, regular gatherings at which parents and grandparents shop their unwed offspring around like animals at a farmers market. Parents worry themselves sick and place blame on the child. Desperation to see their daughter marry leads to unhappy relationships and a soaring divorce rate.

While it is unlikely that a single film will effect any change in the deeply embedded attitudes of Chinese parents, the already buzzing discourse online confirms that this is a real issue for millions of women across China. Hopefully bringing the problem into the spotlight and sharing their experiences can provide China’s single women with some measure of relief.


  • Client: SK-II
  • Advertisers Supervisor: Kylene Campos
  • Advertisers Supervisor Titel: Brand Director, Global SK-II
  • Creative Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
  • Account Supervisor: Susanna Fagring
  • Account Manager: Linda Tiderman
  • Art Director: Sophia Lindholm, Karina Ullensvang
  • Copywriter: Tove Eriksen Hillblom
  • Designer: Christian Sundén
  • Planner: My Troedsson
  • PR Strategist: Amat Levin
  • Agency Producer, Film/Digital: Alexander Blidner (film), Peter Gaudiano (digital)
  • Production company: Tool
  • Postproduction: Cut n Run
  • Media/PR agency (inkl. adress etc): BeOn
  • Director: Floyd Russ
  • Producer: Mary Church
  • Music: Victor Magro / Future Perfect Music 
  • Exec producer: Robert Helphand
  • D.O.P: Jacob Moller
  • Editor: Robert Ryang
  • Sound: Cut n Run

Pigpen cinema presents: AMY


Screening on Tuesday December 08, 2015
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65-4 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer, wine, and cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

From director Asif Kapadia (SENNA), AMY tells the incredible story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse – in her own words. Featuring extensive unseen archive footage and previously unheard tracks, this strikingly modern, moving and vital film shines a light on our culture the world we live in today. A once-in-a-generation talent, Amy Winehouse was a musician that captured the world’s attention with her unforgettable voice and charisma. The combination of her raw honesty and virtuosity resulted in some of the most unique and adored songs of our time.

Pigpen cinema presents: IRIS


Screening on Tuesday November 17, 2015
Doors at 9 | Movie starts at 9:30
65-4 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials on beer, wine, and cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn snacks
Space is limited to 35 seats
First come, first serve

More on the film: Iris (2015, 80 min., dir. Albert Maysles)
IRIS pairs legendary 87-year-old documentarian Albert Maysles with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how, even in Iris’ dotage, a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. IRIS portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression. “I feel lucky to be working. If you’re lucky enough to do something you love, everything else follows.” (C) Magnolia

See trailer here on youku or youtube

Xavier Chassaing brings us “Visionary Lights”

BMW unveils its new BMW 7 Series in China with their new campaign from Serviceplan Beijing, directed by Xavier Chassaing and produced by P.I.G. China. Shot in the mountains of Xinjiang, China, the film showcases the car as the new “wave of the future” as it literally and metaphorically lights up the world around it. The lush verdant landscapes of western China were scanned especially for the film, then brought to life by post production studio Mathematic.


  • Agency: Service Plan Beijing
  • Director: Xavier Chassaing
  • Production: P.I.G. CHina
  • Post Production: Mathematic Paris
  • ECD: Kathrin Guethoff

J+J bring us Moments of Joy with Holiday Inn

Having brought us real men with their recent Dove Men film, director duo J+J have teamed up with Ogilvy and P.I.G. China once again. The first of Holiday Inn’s Moments of Joy campaign, the film highlights the relationship between working mother and daughter and the common struggle for work-life balance. Catch the film online here or during some of the most-watched Chinese TV shows, “The Voice of China” and “Dad, Where Are We Going?”. Coverage on the film from AdAge here.

New Biotherm Homme Ad is a Knockout

Biotherm Homme believes that even the toughest guys should be keeping moisturized. The luxury skincare company’s new “Total Recharge” moisturizing face wash gives a man the refreshing splash of energy that lets him fight through the rest of his day. Biotherm Homme’s new “Manifesto” spot—produced by P.I.G.—fittingly features international boxing champion Zou Shiming getting a “total recharge” in the middle of his training and sparring. The Ben Tseng-directed spot is shot in a film noir-like black and white, and narrated by Zou with an effective boxing pep talk. Biotherm Homme’s ad reminds men everywhere that vigilant care should be given to even the thickest skin.

Eugenio Recuenco Gives Niccolo Hotels a Five-Star Debut

New P.I.G. director Eugenio Recuenco has just collaborated with luxury branding firm Yang Rutherford to create “New Encounters, Timeless Pleasures,” a classy, lushly-lit spot for the new upscale hotel chain Niccolo Hotels. The wordless, racy ad visually tells the story of a man and woman finding their way to each other, finally to meet and spend their first night together in a deluxe suite at a Niccolo hotel. On their way to one another they wander through the beautiful corridors of the hotel, and experience top notch service from its staff. “New Encounters, Timeless Pleasures,” is dripping with Eugenio’s glamorous signature aesthetic–more of which you can see HERE.

Doublemint ‘Bear’

Doublemint’s latest campaign just launched this month in China and across Southeast Asia, featuring a bear as a young man’s enigmatic wingman. Directed by P.I.G. director Marcelo Burgos, the film was shot in sunny Los Angeles with both a real bear and an animatronic bear. Watch Marcelo’s ‘Bear’ above, then view more of Marcelo’s clever, funny work on his director’s page.

Pigpen Cinema Presents: Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary

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Film Screening Tuesday Aug 18, 2015

Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn snacks
Drink specials on beer, wine, and cocktails

Doors at 9 | Movie starts at 9:30
65-4 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Space is limited to 35 seats
First come, first serve

More on the film:

Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary (2015, 95 min., dir. Daniel Junge & Kief Davidson)


How did a small toy brick manufacturer from Denmark evolve into a global empire spawning countless franchises, blockbuster movies, hit TV shows, and even amusement parks? In their detailed documentary, filmmakers Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson explore the little-known origins of Lego in the 1930s ,and track the toy company’s evolution into a staple toy of childhoods across the globe. The documentary also chronicles the fans and professionals who’ve devoted their lives to creating and expressing with Legos, and showcases some of the most jaw-dropping Lego sculptures ever seen. Hosted by comedic actor Jason Bateman in a Lego figurine-form, Beyond the Brick is a fun, eye-opening examination the Lego phenomenon.