Cannes Unpacked

The feminist’s view. Laura Jordan-Bambach

Issue 44 | September 2017

As the full-on week of nonstop seminars, panels, talks, meetings, events, and whatnot comes to a close, it's prudent to take some time to reflect as I jet back to London.

Cannes Lions for me is a love it/hate it experience. A spectacle of ridiculous proportions, it sometimes feels the festival's growth has been like Tetsuo from the 1988 film Akira: so fast and so out of control that it expands in fleshy folds from good guy to destroyer of worlds in a matter of hours. The Croissette no longer feels like a place of inclusion, or in fact of creativity. It feels like a place of commerce. Our business is creativity, Cannes Lions is now about creative business.

Throughout the week, there could be more to celebrate and encourage the playfulness and random connections that spark creativity: being able to see and experience the work outside of the confines of the Palais, being surprised or creatively challenged; or having the opportunities to jumpstart the creative mind.

I think we'll be seeing a more creative Cannes Lions next year and I know the organisation is open to any suggestions as to how to make it better – after all, we are creative minds and this is our festival.

And there's a lot to love about it too. There's still no other event that brings together the calibre of people from around the world for one week. Even with its growing pains it continues to be a big draw. It's where real inroads have been made around purpose and positive change. It provides a genuinely global platform for debate, where old friends and new connections meet. I love especially the atmosphere that grows organically around it: the free street parties and the dinners in the back streets with like-minded souls, sharing and planning our creative endeavours.

Additionally, the Cannes Lions organisers have created some wonderful initiatives to celebrate diversity and gender equality, including the See It Be It programme and Glass Lions award, as well as putting the topic on the centre stage for many conversations.

There have been incredible shifts in the diversity of judging and of the work, and having a brand as prestigious as Cannes get behind equality is needed more than ever.

Certainly the festival was incredibly supportive of VOWSS – the fringe event that I ran this year. It consumed my entire trip and injected some of that much-needed creative inspiration back into the week.

To complain is lazy. To be a part of making the experience better is our responsibility too.

That's why Maureen A. Bryan, CEO of The Voice of A Woman, and I felt the timing was right to curate a stand-alone programme during the festival, the VOWSS, a showcase for female creativity. It was a celebration of the best work in the world last year - made by women.

There was a lot of talk about diversity throughout the week. And while talk is encouraging, we wanted to acknowledge and honour the quality and imagination of the work of global female creatives in a programme of the best short films, branded content and advertising directed or creatively directed by women.

Creating the VOWSS as a vehicle to showcase the best work from women created an overwhelming response – we received more than 300 submissions and over 700 RSVPs to the event itself.

Both the amount and the calibre of the work truly humbled us. As did the many phenomenal supporters, sponsors, and inspiring creative leaders, who shared their time as jurors.

There are more ways the industry can empower women and promote gender equality in advertising and film production: by doing, not talking.

And by running the VOWSS, it feels good to have also contributed a small shift back towards creativity in Cannes.

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