The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is many things, all at once: a celebration of creative freedom, an ad festival, a networking event and a learning opportunity — with intense days, late nights and gallons of rosé.

This year, it was all this and more.

There were the seminars, which included appearances from Marilyn Manson and Pharrel. There were the super-yachts, hosting barefoot industry elite, plus Ryan Seacrest and Kim Kardashian.

But beyond the glitz, something very special was happening in a quiet workspace inaccessible to most visitors: The Young Lions Competition. In small cubicles decorated with quirky motivational posters, roughly 500 of the world’s top creatives under 28 years old gathered to compete for honors in the fields of Print, Media, Design, Film, Marketers, PR and Cyber.

The competition works like this: After winning qualifying rounds in their home countries, these young creatives are then awarded a trip to Cannes to both absorb the festival and compete in their area of discipline. They have 24 hours to complete a brief submitted by one of several charities, and they are given access to the depth and breadth of Getty Images content to help execute their big idea.

Then, the same industry leaders who serve as festival jurors judge the Young Lions’ work. So, in addition to medals and a trip back to Cannes next year, winners also get their work — and their names — in front of veritable kingmakers.

It’s a huge opportunity. And even though the vibe is friendly, each year the pressure is intense.

This year, I brought my GoPro to the event, and was grateful to catch up with some of the jurors backstage after they had chosen winners for the Young Lions Design category. Here’s what Juan Posada, Executive Creative Director for Geometry Global and Johnny Tan, Chief Creative Officer of BBH China, had to say about the experience:

If the jurors are looking to see who will take their jobs, the Young Lions, too, are looking to see where this experience will take them. It’s not uncommon for winners to be sought after by head hunters and whisked off to yachts or hotel rooftops to meet with recruiters, creative directors and agency CEOs.

So you can imagine the excitement when the winners are named — like Team Switzerland, Cyber, for example, Dominique Malanja Magnusson, Art Director at Wirz Werbung and her partner Kevin Zysset, Graphic Designer at KSP Krieg Schlup. Here’s what happened when their names were announced (which made us all smile!):

I got the chance to chat with Magnusson and Zysset after their win, together with fellow Young Lions Competition winners from Peru and Lithuania. Beyond being a very talented bunch, I felt inspired by their heart, enthusiasm and insight:

My colleagues and I were lucky this year to spend time with so many of the Young Lions competitors, as they stopped by the Getty Images photo studio to have their portraits taken by award-winning Getty Images entertainment photographer Gareth Cattermole. While they posed for the camera, one thing was clear: Win or lose, these Lions are the future, and in the years ahead, it will be their creative talents shifting public opinion, solving problems and shaping the world.

We’ll be cheering for them all the way.

Celebrating this year’s incredibly talented, creative and dynamic group of #YoungLions. Well done! #CannesLions #GettyLions A video posted by iStock by Getty Images (@istockbygettyimages) on