JUDGES' VOTES SPARK DEBATE;PSST, CANNES JUDGES: YOUR JOB IS TO JUDGE, SO JUDGE

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Controversy over the Grand Prix at Cannes is nothing new. As soon as someone wins, half the (bad) losers start making up reasons why the winner should be disqualified.

But when no one wins, we wonder why we bothered to come. Depending largely on the personality of the jury president, the festival has veered wildly between years of award inflation, when ludicrous numbers of lions were handed out, and award austerity.

It would be one thing if this year's jury refused to name a Grand Prix winner because the work was excruciatingly, disgracefully awful.

In fact, there were four Gold Lion winners considered Grand Prix-able by various judges on the film jury. They didn't give a Grand Prix because they couldn't decide. Well, that's their job.

Part of the excitement of hanging out at Cannes is knowing that the jury is fighting it out among three or four hotly debated-and widely leaked-contenders for the Grand Prix. That's what we talk about on the beach of the Carlton Hotel and in the Martinez bar. Past judges describe voting over and over, eliminating the lowest scorers, until a clear winner emerges.

Isn't it strange that the One Show and the Clios in the U.S., the San Sebastian festival in Spain and Latin America's FIAP all managed to award prizes this year?

It's hard enough for a Cannes judge to assess thousands of commercials (you have a generous three seconds to think deeply about each one). How can he or she also judge whether this year's crop measures up to past work? You have to judge what's there.

Until recently, there was a rule requiring a Grand Prix to be awarded. Let's bring it back.

Laurel Wentz

Deputy Editor/International

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