Diary of a Jurist: Ann Hayden, Film

Executive Vice President, Worldwide Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York

June 19 This morning we got our marching orders from John [Hunt, Film Jury President]. Judge as individuals, work like a team. Political voting doesn’t belong (apparently there are safeguards, but we will look to our own consciences.) Stay open to cultural and language nuances. Be prompt. Most importantly, since we are going to work so hard over the next several days, we “might as well enjoy doing it.”

The jury was then divided into three interchangeable subgroups, which is how we’ll work through Tuesday.

We vote on handheld PDAs, scoring from one to nine. The technology works without a glitch, good thing given the 586 commercials we had to get through. A couple of observations: The serial commercial has proliferated. We saw many a cast of characters in shifting storylines.

By the end of the day I wondered whether the episodic method got in the way of creating an amazingly great spot. There seems to be a growing preoccupation with death. PSAs notwithstanding. A lot of the work was really engaging. I found myself on the edge of the chair praying “Please make this one end well … if not a surprise, at least give me a thought that works.” Today, not all of my prayers were answered.

June 20 This morning our “E” subgroup was tasked with a big chunk of PSAs. Battered women and hungry children is a rock—heavy irony this week in Cannes. Occasionally the messages cross over to direct, eliciting help in practical terms. Fresh and compelling. In other instances, I wished the entry fees had been saved for the cause itself.

Fast lunch on the terrace. A fellow jury member and I dined on cheese. And more cheese. That was a good thing, given the next couple of hours were spent on fast food and restaurant messages.

Once again I wondered whether the episodic and thematic consistency of brands might be inversely proportional to an amazing single piece of work. We ended the afternoon with “best of music.” It’s a new category and not surprisingly, we found a few beautiful pieces.

Finished around seven. I look forward to seeing my fellow jury members again tomorrow.

June 21 “Do you always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it?” asks Daisy in The Great Gatsby. Today may well be the summer solstice, but from everything I hear, tomorrow will be the longest day for the jury. We’ll come back together as a group and see our shortlist for the first time.

This morning we judged 250-plus spots in the commercial business services category. The majority of it was telecom, which pretty much has the same thing to sell regardless of country or culture. This afternoon was sweets, etc. Other than wondering where our plate of biscuits had gone, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

June 22 When leaving the Palais this evening, after 12 hours, I saw a young girl with a big baby doll in her arms. “Which ad is she from?” I wanted to know.

Can you have too much of a good thing, or a bad thing, or even the occasional great thing? With some 650 commercials on our aggregated shortlist, the answer is, “Yup.”

Within some categories judges looked at each other in bewilderment: “Are you responsible for this being here? Are you, or you?” During other categories, one good idea, or execution, or preferably both, followed another.

People said today would be our longest. Perhaps. But tomorrow may well be the toughest. We’ll begin to discuss differeneces of opinion. Most importantly, we’ll start to identify the rare and wonderful work that brings us all together.

June 23 We saw our shortlist for the first time. Many surprises. It seems like 10 years ago since we began to go through the top tier within each of the 27 categories. The jury keeps stopping with questions of procedure and clarity. It seems, at first, as though we will never finish awarding gold, silver and bronze. And sure enough we don’t.

Tomorrow, we’ll award a half-dozen categories we didn’t get through today. And finally look at the show as a whole. Too many bronzes? Not enough golds? Only time will tell.

Since today was the first day the jury voted with hands raised, the differences in our cultural perceptions became more apparent. It isn’t a matter of politics or personal gain that distinguishes our diverse voting; more the way in which we view our world. This is, after all, Cannes. And the jury diversity is unlike any other show I’ve had the pleasure, or pain, to judge.