Kim Wildenburg, founder, Sedona Productions represented Australia on the Cannes Film Craft Lions jury. Wildenburg, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors, writes exclusively for CB.
What an incredible, inspiring, eye-opening, and exhausting experience.
After endless late nights and weekends prejudging the shortlist, in the months leading up to Cannes, it was great to finally be in the room with my fellow jurors to debate the craft.
Our Jury President was the extraordinary Kim Gehrig, and you could see instantly why she is one of the best directors of our time. Her undeniable presence, passion for the craft, humble confidence, and ground-breaking work that we frequently watched over the past week, was impressive. My fellow jury peers were incredibly knowledgeable, experienced, and added so much passion to our debates. As well as cultural relevance, with many countries represented from the Netherlands, Germany, USA, Japan, Singapore, the UK and Australia.
We wrapped our last day of judging at 11pm, having bunkered in a room for 43 hours over three days. Sadly, Australia’s work was scarce, however the quality of work was remarkable. We had a huge shortlist of 222 entries, which we had to select the top 51 campaigns to assign an award. We had the following criteria when considering this task.
Bronze – had to be flawless.
Silver – was inspiring.
Gold – was trailblazing.
Grand Prix – was transcendent.
Collectively we all felt that many campaigns pushed the boundaries, through unique creativity or powerful messaging. There were many insights and trends that we all walk away with this year, which include:
- • The Long form reigned supreme. I was genuinely surprised how many films were over 5 minutes and how few submissions committed to a 15”, 30” or 60” duration. This was positive in one hand, as it really lent into the story and had the ability to impact our emotions. In many instances when we collectively watched a 10-minute film, we were all left speechless and needed a moment to compose our thoughts. Some were extraordinary and captivating, including our Grand Prix. Other’s felt indulgent and we yearned for more succinct storytelling.
- • Music driven storytelling was plentiful. There were a lot of films this year that featured little, or no dialogue and their stories were told through music.
- • Activism and social purpose storytelling was extremely prevalent. There were the usual brands like Dove, who are renowned for their impactful work, combined with numerous new brands also jumping on this strategy, using creativity to open important conversations and shift the needle. The films included themes such as homophobia, eating disorders, migration, gun violence, violence against women, equality, HIV awareness and the energy crisis.
- • The work overall was quite heavy in messaging. With a lack in light hearted, feel good and comedy scripts.
- • Authentic storytelling, utilising real cast that audiences can relate to was prevalent.
Our Grand Prix selection was a tough one and quite unorthodox in its nature. Collectively we felt that it achieved so much regarding its contextual importance in today’s polarised society. From a craft perspective, it was both simple and complex. The cinematography was technically outstanding, the performances were extraordinary, the direction was confident, and the film makes you question yourself, therefore we wanted this to be seen by a wider audience.
This was a bucket list for me, and I walk away humbled by this phenomenal experience. I feel inspired, creatively invigorated and I’ve learnt so much. I’ve formed so many amazing friendships and was blown away by the calibre of work and representation of so many countries at the Cannes Lions. This was a huge responsibility and undertaking to select the best work of the past year and I’m so grateful to have been of that process.