Cannes party lines
Brazil Party, BBC Films and moreRomaCinemaFest's Brazil Party
At times, the invitation-waving scrum of would-be partygoers rivaled the size of the crowd inside, huddled under the tent to escape the steady rain that cast a pall on the festivities. Reports are that several profound friendships were sparked while waiting in the drizzling rain outside the party, though many then gave up and headed for a drink elsewhere.
Attendees: Italian rock devo Piero Pelu was among the most recognizable personalities among a low-watt group that included nervous-looking officials from the beleaguered RomaCinemaFest and a smattering of Italian producers and actors.
Cuisine: Wait staff occasionally passed by with a modest selection of delicate finger foods, but most of the available calories were of the liquid kind, with mass-produced caipirinhas the main attraction at the well-staffed bars.
Highlights/lowlights: The party was held to highlight the Brazilian sidebar set to be prominent at October's RomaCinemaFest, and a good Brazilian-style cover band did provide a steady beat for those who managed to make it inside. But the rain was the night's real protagonist, hurding guests into the covered areas of the plage, where they periodically looked out for a break in the cloud cover that never came.
Verdict: 1.5/5 martinis (Eric J. Lyman)
BBC Films cocktails
BBC Films upped the ante this year with a bigger party. While the DJ looked a bit more Alan Yentob than Fat Boy Slim (bearded and older than your average disc spinner) the guests flopped around the beach venue sipping rose (de rigeur for Brits on the Cote, don't you know) and wondering if they should partake in the limited nibbles.
Attendees: It was busy and seemed to be the first port of call for anglophiles and anglophones alike ahead of Monday evening with Oscar winner Graham King, Miramax Films chief Daniel Battsek and U.S. representation from a variety of sources including Bingham Ray and James Schamus.
Cuisine: It seems a big lunch had been assumed with nothing much on offer when it came to eats. People of a certain generation would have been disappointed. You can't, after all, give people a whole of booze without giving them something to eat. Oh, sorry, of course you can, it's the Festival de Cannes.
Highlights/lowlights: Highlights were probably the whispered accolades for filmmaker Terence Davies, whose Special Screening of documentary "Of Time and the City" had cynical, dark room dwelling Brit crits in tears because of its emotional dexterity and brilliance. The lowlight had to be that bigger had proven not to be better for attendees.
Verdict: 2.5/5 martinis (Stuart Kemp)
Norwegian Tourist Board/Norwegian Film Institute
(Grand Hotel Garden)
Norway's Tourist Board provided a salty antidote to the traditional Cannes party with this low-key event. The central setting, amazing spread and utter lack of industry presence made it sweet bliss for anyone looking to escape the craziness for a few hours.
Attendees: The invited guests were non-industry: tourism folk from around Europe who were given a quick lesson in the traditional Sami culture of northern Scandinavia -- the culture celebrated in Nils Gaup's new historic saga "The Kautokeino Rebellion."
Cuisine: Quite possibly the best food at Cannes - piles of fresh halibut, caviar and reindeer meat and a delicious Sami soup -- all brought down especially from up North. Only the wine was local.
Highlights/lowlight: A demonstration of "Yoiking" the ancient Sami way of singing, brought many in the crowd near tears//The lack of industry jabber could be considered a negative, but only for those whose horizons start and end on the Croisette.
Verdict: 3/5 Lavvos or 3/5 reindeer (Scott Roxborough)
Fortissimo's early-night event was everyone's first stop Monday -- the ideal spot for picking up the latest gossip and working the room before heading off to the next do. Low key but classy, the party was just the ticket for Croisette crawlers suffering from mid-market blues.
Attendees: Fortissimo co-chairman Michael J. Werner and Wouter Barendrecht played host to a cross section of the European and Asian industry with a smattering of top talent, including Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai and long-time collaborator, Aussie cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
Cuisine: Lovely ladies in orange "Tokyo Sonata" garbage man suits served up bite-sized munchies of all varieties and an open-tap supply of libation were sufficient to tide over guests in that dead post-work, pre-dinner party period.
Highlights/lowlights: The trio of masseurs giving folks full-on back rubs, something that should become a required feature for all second week parties/Given the lousy state of later night events, the main drawback to Fortissimo was that it wrapped too soon.
Verdict: 3/5 martinis (Scott Roxborough)
The Times BFI London Film Festival Reception
Palais Stephanie Roof Terrace
This is a cocktail party used by the British Film Institute to thank filmmakers and sponsors and to "launch" the year's annual fall event. With a very British feel, it's all about celebrating filmmakers and the press. Nice. No, Cannes.
Attendees: If the venue had had rafters, it would have been packed to them with the entire British press pack on hand to swallow some free champagne and talk to producers, other festival organizers and a huge proportion of the U.K. Film Council and the British Film Institute. U.K. Minister for Culture, Creative Industries & Tourism Margaret Hodge jetted into Cannes and her first stop was the Brits-on-the-roof shindig.
Cuisine: A truly liquid affair with no evidence of nibbles. Perhaps pints of milk and some bread on arrival might have been an idea to help soak up the booze.
Highlights/lowlights: It's a toss up between the speeches being mercifully short or BFI chairman Gregg Dyke's speech being funny for the highlight. Dyke recounted being asked to present a token of thanks in person to the Queen at Buckingham Palace on behalf of U.K.media interests when he was the director general of the BBC. Afterward, he took the PR aside and asked, humbly, "why me?" The reply was brevity itself. "We needed someone short," came the answer. The emotional highlight of the event came as the late Anthony Minghella, who chaired the BFI before Dyke took the gig, was remembered to those on the roof. Perhaps the lowlight was his absence.
Verdict: 2.5/5 martinis (Stuart Kemp)
German Films had all the pieces in place for a blowout: great food, good music and plentiful and tasty drinks. Sadly, the crowd of Teutonic A-listers was slow to warm and the rain -- which kicked in around midnight -- turned this potential firecracker into a damp squib.
Attendees: Anyone who's anyone and anyone who wants to be in the German industry -- from uber producers Martin Moszkowicz of Constantin Film and X Filme's Stefan Ardnt to directing talent Fatih Akin and Wim Wenders. As usual, the German Films event tends to be insular, with few outsiders allowed in.
Cuisine: Slabs of juicy grilled meats, tasty cheeses and even salads in sufficient supply to feed a small army complemented by a beer hall's worth of booze, including caprihinas that would put the Brazilians to shame.
Highlights/lowlights: Culture Minister Bernd Neumann provided the night's only real laugh when he mispronounced the name of Germany's hottest young director -- calling "The Edge of Heaven" helmer something that sounded a lot like "F***ie Akin."/The wet weather, which extinguished the party before it could catch fire.
Verdict: 2.5/5 martinis (Scott Roxborough)
(Chopard at Carlton Beach)
The mood was bleak and despairing for much for James Gray's "Two Lovers," but that was nothing compared to the movie's afterparty. The late-night gathering was more cramped than a Brighton Beach social club you might find in a Gray film -- and felt even smaller because rain forced damp and unhappy partygoers who'd trekked in puddles from the Palais to stay off the beach and head for the shelter of the small rectangular bar.
Attendees: Stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw, so stunning they reminded the crowd how out of place they seemed onscreen in blue-collar Brooklyn, with Gray, Kristin Scott Thomas, and 2929 Prods.' Marc Butan. Teams from Paramount Vantage, Sony Pictures Classics, Roadside Attractions Miramax and Magnolia bemoaning poor films. No star Joaquin Phoenix.
Cuisine: There wasn't much, and what there was wasn't good. Servers carrying overly fish-heavy sets of appetizers inched their way through the crowd, and once attendees sampled one snack they were unlikely to take another. The existence of only one bar and too few bartenders ensured that even a drink took too long to come by.
Highlights/lowlights: The loud music did segue into some boppier numbers as the night wore on, prompting some claustrophobic dancing-in-place, but it wasn't enough to rescue the party from its unpleasantness. A pointless VIP platform to keep the hoi polloi away from the one real celeb at the party, but a decent lounge area on the other side of the room. The only bright spot was that all the annoyances gave partygoers a ready subject for conversation.
Verdict: 1.5/5 martinis (Gregg Goldstein and Steven Zeitchik)