Doomsayers abound, what can Cannes do?

With a clutch of 16 nominations in the last few categories like Film, Radio, Creative Effectiveness and Film Craft, things are again looking up for the Indian contingent. It could be argued that things started looking up yesterday itself, when a bunch of homesick desis descended on the annual Times of India party, picking it over more lavish parties thrown by their networks. The draw: Bollywood, belly dancers and Indian food. It being the Summer Solstice, there were free concerts round practically in every street corner near the Palais at Cannes: from a gritty looking duo hammering out ‘Hey Joe’ at a street corner to multiple DJs complete with dry ice and confetti bombs.

At the India Party and indeed elsewhere, Pub-xit was the most hotly discussed topic, on occasion entirely effacing curiosity about how well or poorly India had been doing. Agency people from other networks too acknowledged that they’d sent smaller contingents this time. Some wondered if this was the beginning of the end of awards culture. Others hoped it was, citing everything from what they considered suspect behaviour during the judging process, to the sheer expense involved — one Cannes veteran quipped: “You can spot the suckers here by looking for the delegate badges that says ‘Classic Platinum’.” And still others carped about the privileges these special people got: priority accommodation at the best hotels (highly desirable) and a festival check-in counter at the Nice airport (highly undesirable).

As the festival winds down, we also noticed a sharp rise in conspiracy theorising: the wide-eyed innocence of the early days giving way into a hard-nosed enquiry into why X or Y entry was winning so much, and whether some of the fests biggest successes were kosher. We hear even in juries, BBDO’s celebrated Graham entry, featuring a sculpture designed to recreate the evolutionary modifications the human body would have to undergo to survive a car crash is being unfavourably compared to the ‘original’: the first-natural born smoker, a film from the 80s by Barry Myers which also addressed the freakish changes in a person born to smoke.

And while Cannes Lions proudly announced 43% of its jurors were women this year, there was more than one male juror questioning the credentials of their fellow jury members.

The women jurors were relentlessly googled and deemed unworthy to be judging at “such a high level” by their fellow jurors, who also wondered aloud if at least some of them were a “quota hire.”