The 2018 Cannes Lions Festival is drawing to a close. After our incredible start to the festivities with P&G‘s announcement of their commitment to the Free The Bid pledge, we were able to cap off the eventful week with a last-minute celebration, thanks to our friends at pledged brand Twitter!

Over the course of our week at Cannes, we had the dawning (but not especially shocking) realization that there were NO women advertising directors appearing on official panels, aside from director Jaci Judelson on pledged agency BBDO‘s “Execution And The Auteur” panel on Wednesday.

However, there WERE lots of women directors from Free The Bid’s community in attendance at the festival, and so we approached Twitter with the spur of the moment impulse to gather together a group of inspiring Free The Bid directors at their designated section of the Cannes shore, Twitter Beach, the very next morning.

The answer was an enthusiastic, “YES!” from Twitter CMO Leslie Berland, who led the charge for Twitter’s own #HereWeAre movement of gender equality advocacy with a conversation with actress Kerry Washington about celebrating and elevating women’s voices on Wednesday.

Our Executive Director Emma Reeves rounded up the women directors with the help of our Free The Bid Mexico ambassador Faride Schroeder (who earlier in the week served as an ambassador for pledged supporter HP‘s #MoreLikeMe program), and Free The Bid Germany ambassador Elisha Smith-Leverock. Leslie Berland joined the group for some epic photos, which show the advertising world that if they’re looking for women directors and an easy pathway to more profitable, diverse storytelling, #HereWeAre!


back row (l – r): Senain Kheshgi, Ju Lee, Jessica Benzing/KRONCK, Leslie Berland (CMO, Twitter), Jeana Theron, Viviane Blumenschein, Elisha Smith-Leverock, Phoebe Arnstein, Jaci Judelson; front row (l -r): Åsa Riton, Kjersti Brinch Lund, Lorena Orraca, Faride Schroeder, Suzanne Kim, and Beatrice Pegard



Åsa Riton and Kjersti Brinch Lund were co-directing a documentary nearby and they ran down the Croisette to join the photo, with their DP Sophie Winqvist filming as they ran onto the beach!

The ladies had the chance to mingle and bond in the bright sunshine. Yep, that’s the Free The Bid spirit – facilitating connections between women directors from Australia, Mexico, Germany, South Africa, Sweden, North America, France, and the UK.

Of course, not every woman director in attendance at the Festival could make it at such short notice to Twitter Beach, but we’re glad to have connected with even more incredible women throughout the week, including Pamela RomanowskyLaerke HerthoniSheila Johansson and Jessy Moussallem.

Jessy and Georgia Hudson were both included among the directors screened in the prestigious 2018 New Directors Showcase, and this year’s Young Director Awards honored women directors Jessy, Eliza McNitt, Alicia MacDonald, Charlotte Regan, Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Carol Freeman, Jore Janaviciute, Amy Wang, Florine & Kim Nüesch, and Dorothy Allen-Pickard  – with even more Free The Bid ladies included on the shortlist!

Thanks so much to Leslie, Manjula Nadkarni, and the whole team at Twitter. Here’s to more official visibility at next year’s Festival, on panels and in awards – women directors are here, and we’re not going anywhere!



All photos: Ben de Montagnac