Cannes party lines

'Kung Fu Panda,' Focus Features, more

KUNG FU PANDA
(Carlton Beach Hotel Pier)
Everybody was kung fu fighting ... especially the vivacious life-sized panda dancing the night away on the Carlton beach for DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda." The cuddly hero animated the low-key dockside bash which merged Paramount studio execs and French B-list celebs for a night of Asian flare. Guests who caught the panda-emic danced the night away under a covered tent.

Attendees
: Brad and Angelina avoided the crowd, taking refuge at a dockside table as partygoers gazed at the world's most beautiful couple from afar. Jolie sported Pitt's oversized coat to protect the Mom-to-be from the cool breeze while Pitt made conversation with Thierry Fremaux and George Lucas. A swarm of French celebs such as Manu Payet and actress Mylene Jampanoi mingled with U.S. agents and Paramount execs including Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore, Paramount Vantage president Nick Meyer and Paramount International CEO Andrew Cripps.

Cuisine: Guests grabbed their chopsticks to enjoy Asian-influenced fare including mini spring rolls, translucent dumplings, small bowls of beef stir-fry and sauteed noodles then ended the evening on a sweet note with mini bowls of chocolate mousse or fresh strawberries, peaches and watermelon. The food was delicious enough even to satiate Po the Panda's insatiable appetite.

Highlight/lowlights: The world's most beautiful couple and a wide-eyed, ostensibly drunk kung fu fighting panda bear made for Brangepandalina-filled fun. / With twins in the oven, Angie stuck to her corner, leaving poor Panda to frolic among the French femmes toute seule.

Verdict
: 4/5 martinis (Rebecca Leffler)

HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE
Festival House (villa)
Vodka, vodka, vodka. Mention the vodka. Akvinta is the brand and it sponsored the British GQ magazine and London-based sales and finance house Intandem Films party put on to celebrate "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People." The first drink offered on entry was any vodka-based cocktail you wished but for those with a wine habit, the hunt was on. The enormous and imposing villa in the hills provided a spectacular backdrop for the music and visuals by Gorillaz Sound System, while a big part of London's party scene found themselves rubbing shoulders with the Brit hack pack and top-flight executives.

Attendees
: Popsters Lily Allen and Natalie Imbruglia rubbed shoulders with Mischa Barton and the movie's Brit star Simon Pegg. Harvey Weinstein said he was "off duty" while pressing the flesh at the Villa.

Cuisine
: By the time this reporter arrived, there wasn't much food around. But there was evidence of rice and fish and nibbles. Mostly on the floor.

Highlight/lowlights:
The highlight had to be a relaxed Simon Pegg's confession that his Scottish wife was even more important than normal at the moment because she is acting as his voice coach for his role as Scotty in "Star Trek." Lowlights included an outbreak of glass breaking by the waiters, which gave the guests the impression they were chatting at a Greek wedding, and a ridiculous situation with the toilets as overzealous security decided some of the pissoirs were "prive."

Verdict
: 2.5/5 martinis (Stuart Kemp)

WALTZ WITH BASHIR
(White Lotus Club, Atrium Beach)
The bash to celebrate Israeli buzz title "Waltz With Bashir" started slow, but when the DJ wisely switched from low-key electro pop to crowd-pleasing '80s tunes inspired by the film's soundtrack, the White Lotus Club transformed into a reasonable imitation of a hip Tel Aviv disco. The non-elitst, kibbutz-ie attitude encouraged execs to let their hair down, and inspired at least one partygoer to take advantage of one of the club's bubbling Jacuzzis to take a fully-clothed dip.

Attendees
: An animated documentary doesn't provide much in the way of high-profile talent, so the crowd, alongside director Ari Folman and the film's producers and financers, was mainly stacked with the finest from Israel's film industry and Euro art house execs. Notable faces included the very animated head of Le Pacte, Jean Labdie, Dutch producer San Fu Maltha, Senator Entertainment CFO Christopher Borgmann and a full contingent of European film body reps, including CNC chief Veronique Cayla and German Film boss Christian Dorsch. German director Fatih Akin, in Cannes to head the Un Certain Regard jury, also made an appearence.

Cusine
: Plates of tasty fried Middle-Eastern snacks were the only food, but given the late hour, guests could hardly have expected a bigger spread. Alcohol and teetotaler beverages of all varieties were present and plentifully poured. One nice touch was the cans of Dark Dog energy drink -- a winking reference to the film's opening image of 26 ravenous hounds.

Highlights/lowlights:
At 2 a.m. when the DJ suddenly cut off the last song mid-way through, the pulsating dance crowd was having none of it, and spontaneously began chanting the lyrics to the Human League's "Don't You Want Me Baby!" to keep the party hopping./The aggressive security, which put a quick kibosh on any after-hours reveling, clearing the beach minutes after final call with no-nonsense and a few bull horns.

Verdict
: 3.5/5 martinis (Scott Roxborough)

DIRECTORS' FORTNIGHT

(Rado Beach)
This year marking its 40th anniversary, the Directors' Fortnight held a lively no-frills opening party on the beach Thursday. Sidebar chief Olivier Pere welcomed an eager crowd more interested in satisfying appetites for food, booze and dance-floor frissons than posing with stars.

Attendees
: A youngish, French-dominated crowd thronged the bar, buffet and beachfront. Veteran Polish helmer Jerzy Skolimowski, who helmed the sidebar's opening night film "Four Nights With Anna," was in the house, along with the picture's producer Paolo Branco. A gaggle of Gallic sales agents mingled with the masses. "Che" producer Juan Gordon of Morena Films also was in the mix.

Cuisine
: The bar served wine, beer and limited spirits, and struggled at times to keep pace with demand. In keeping with the overall atmosphere, food was simple and tended toward fun stuff. Foie gras nibbles were handed round, the buffet included sate chicken, crudites and risotto, and sweet tooths were sated by a chocolate fountain, tubs of ice cream and freshly-made waffles. The sickly smell of the waffle grease merging with the pungent pong of meat sauce made the beach sand a more fragrant place to hang out.

Highlights/lowlights
: The dancefloor started to fill about 11 p.m. to a set of retro sounds encompassing Duran Duran, Tom-Tom Club, New Order and the Spice Girls. A switch of DJ meant a shift in gear, with Rage Against the Machine getting the dancefloor chanting what should become the universal Cannes riposte to petty-minded festival security: "F**k you, I won't do what you tell me!"

Verdict
: 3/5 martinis (Charles Masters)

FOCUS FEATURES
(3.14 beach)
As Paramount's pandas bounded next door, Focus Features threw a more grown-up fete on the eastern end of the Croisette. A spot directly on the beach instead of the usual pierside remove gave the party a pleasant tropical vibe, while an old-school deejay spun boppy remixes of unlikely '80s ditties from the likes of Whitney Houston. The late-night start ensured that many partygoers were already in good spirits when they arrived, and the dance floor stayed thronged with happy-footed partygoers right up to closing time.

Attendees
: With an emphasis on international buyers, the party was lower on the talent quotient than some of its Thursday counterparts. But U.S. specialty execs like Focus' Andrew Karpen and Miramax's Daniel Battsek were out in force, and the crowd had a refreshingly eclectic feel; presidents of companies and interns rubbed elbows.

Cuisine
: A late-night start of 10 p.m. made the presence of mostly dessert items more than acceptable. Cocktails flowed freely and with a refreshing absence of waiting from the multiple bars, though the distribution of a brand of generic beer -- label-less green-tinted bottles containing a pungent brew -- presented an unfortunate surprise for some partygoers.

Highlights/lowlights:
The party looked to be heading to an abrupt ending reminiscent of the end of a new York Yankees came when "New York, New York" came on shortly before 2 a.m. But it was a false alarm -- the songs cranked up again, and generous bartenders doled out a few more drinks before security finally put an end to the festivities.

Verdict
: 3/5 martinis (Steven Zeitchik)
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