Cannes 2011

Stymied by Volcano, Argentine Judges Head to Cannes Festival By Bus

The Journey of Nico and Nati, Chronicled on Twitter

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Two of Argentina's Cannes Lions judges, trapped by an ash cloud from a volcano in southern Chile that closed airports in neighboring countries, set off from Buenos Aires earlier this week determined to reach the south of France -- by bus.

Nicolas Pimentel, founder of new agency +Castro, and Natalia Rodoni, from PR firm AdverPR, are chronicling on Twitter what's turned into a four-day road trip they hope will end in Cannes on Thursday night. Enthusiastic followers of Nico and Nati's saga at hashtag #rodmovie started posting encouragement as the pair embarked on the first leg, an 18-hour bus trip to Brazil.

Nico started the story: Their Iberia flight at noon Monday, June 13, getting them to Cannes in time to start judging Tuesday afternoon, was canceled. So was their next flight, on Lufthansa. Iberia called them back, and they spent Monday night at Buenos Aires airport Ezeiza. Tuesday the airport closed, again. The two judges' dilemma: hope the ash cloud would pass in a day or so, or find another mode of transport?

That's how Nico and Nati ended up taking the 18-hour bus trip from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls, on the border between Brazil and Argentina. Nati says it took them an hour to cross the border, then they resumed the trip in a taxi. They made it to a local airport, waited six hours, and got on a flight to Rio de Janeiro. They waited four hours at the airport, then boarded a 12-hour overnight flight to Frankfurt. Happily, they arrived in Frankfurt on Thursday morning, and were scheduled to fly later in the day to Nice, 45 minutes by taxi from Cannes, arriving Thursday night.

Nati lost her sunglasses somewhere in Brazil and asked her followers for advice on new ones (lots of time for duty-free shopping during all those stopovers). Nico tweeted about airport food. Their friends wondered if they had found somewhere to bathe. Back in Argentina, newspapers and radio channels started writing about the journey of two plucky judges heading to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity . (Watch Nati's slideshow of the #rodmovie journey here and here.)

There are 12 judges from Argentina this year. Festival CEO Philip Thomas said on Wednesday evening that of the six Argentine judges who should already be in Cannes and at work with their juries, two had arrived.

The festival's first awards will be given out Monday night, June 20, and those juries started working earlier this week. Judges in the late-week Cannes contests aren't in Cannes yet. Dario Straschnoy, president of Y&R Argentina, is on the jury for this year's new category, Creative Effectiveness and said his jury doesn't start work until next Wednesday so he expects to arrive in time. Similarly, Pablo Del Campo, CEO of Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi and a Titanium judge, said conditions are improving and he'll fly to Cannes on Sunday night.

One Argentine judge, Mariano Serkin, executive creative director at Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires, just happened to be in Chile earlier this week and said he spent many hours hours in the airport in Santiago, where he whiled away the time in the duty free shop. "If you are not lucky enough, you can spend a whole day in a boring duty free trying Antonio Banderas' new perfume till the wind blows the ash cloud away," Mr. Serkin emailed. Back in Buenos Aires, he said he expected to arrive in time to join the Film jury in Cannes (although he may smell like Antonio Banderas).

Ironically, Mr. Thomas said, the judges from Chile arrived on schedule.

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