Turin Film Festival

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This event at Terrazza Martini at Plage du Gray d'Albion served as the official introduction of Italian auteur Nanni Moretti -- a five-time Palme d'Or nominee who took the prize home in 2001. This year, Moretti consummated his off-again, on-again romance with the Turin Film Festival by agreeing to become the 25-year-old festival's director.

Attendees: With Moretti as host, most of the big-name guests were directors -- of either films or film festivals. Big names on hand included "Buena Vista Social Club" helmer Wim Wenders and Michael Cimino, of "Deer Hunter" fame.

Cuisine: There was no buffet, but tasty seafood finger food was in constant circulation. With drink maker Martini the main sponsor of the Terrazza, generous barkeeps poured a wide variety of white and red Martin-based concoctions, including one unlikely mix that featured red Martini, vodka, strawberries and basil.

Highlights/lowlights: The heavily Italian evening was steady rather than dramatic. But at one point a lot of the late-night crowd broke toward the sidewalk when word spread that Bono was approaching on his way to U2's impromptu red carpet gig.

Rating: 2.5/5


India party

The Indians hosted a classy, if low-key, affair at Majestic Beach in celebration of Bollywood, world cinema and 60 years of independence. Welcoming all comers with printed silk scarves at the door, the party was not too crowded, making it a good place to wash down the business of the day with a mango dessert.

Attendees: Directors Mani Ratnam, Raju Hirani and Ketan Mehta mingled with stars Priety Zinta, Manisha Koirala, Zayed Khan and Prakash Raj, while producers Bobby Bedi, Ronnie Screwvala and Amit Khanna hosted international guests Richard Soames (Film Finances), Francois DaSilva (Eurocorp), Claire Wise (U.K. Film Council), Sativ Chahil (Hewlett-Packard), Dan Scheinman (Cisco), Serge Sobczynsky (Cannes Cinema du Monde) and Veroniqe Cayla (CNC). International star power was close to zero.

Cuisine: A disappointingly mild curry was accompanied by delicious veggies and spiced fish croquette and bolstered by plenty of naan, rice and coconutty sweets. A blue light cast over the one table of Western food made it impossible to determine what was on offer. Drinks were on the skimpy side, with bars serving wine and beer (no Kingfisher!) but nothing stronger.

Highlights/lowlights: Bright saris adorned many ladies, and the bubbling dance mix -- blending Bollywood, hip-hop and disco -- inspired a few holdouts to try jump-start the party after midnight. Sadly, it didn't last, and the party petered out.

Rating: 2.5/5


Fuji TV party

This well-organized yet relaxed, playful and well-attended party at Carlton Beach drew actress Mischa Barton and director Wong Kar Wai ("My Blueberry Nights"), whose arrival caused a near riot for the host's aggressive camera crews. Giveaways included colorful plastic party masks, bright pinwheels and Manga stickers to take home to the kids. Grownups got little wooden box cups used to sip sake or great for holding paper clips once it's back to business.

Attendees: Appropriate to the antics of Japanese TV, the guests of honor, actors Takuya Kimura ("2046") and Shingo Katori, opened the festivities by smashing open a barrel of vintage rice wine with hammers while morning show presenter Reiko Endo led the rest of us in a raucous chant to break the ice. Yoshiaki Yamada, executive managing director of Fuji TV, and Chihiro Kameyama, head of Fuji's motion pictures department, welcomed guests from around the world including Michael Werner of Fortissimo Films, Shirley Huang of Movie-Eye and Jeffrey Chan of Distribution Workshop.

Cuisine: The chicken yakitori sticks were a bit dry, but the wide selection of other hors d'oeuvres was an excellent blend of Japanese, French and Italian. After the initial sake-soaking, most guests switched to the free-flowing bubbly served from well-stocked full bars lit with cool standing mini-chandlers.

Highlights/lowlights: The party lacked good music, but organizers might be forgiven for knowing it was hopeless to try to compete with the booming tunes from the party next door.

Rating: 3/5


Cinema From Spain
Word has gotten out that if you want to have a good time at Cannes, you should find a Spanish party. Thus the cocktail organized by the Spanish Foreign Trade Institute and the Culture Ministry's Film Institute, grew from a spruced up Cannes get-together for insiders to a beachside must for anyone interested in the Spanish industry. Problem was that it hadn't been planned as a party so it lacked the flavors and sounds of Spain to lend proper authenticity. Even so, it was a good time at Noga Beach Legende, with nearly all the important faces on hand and easy-access conversation.

Attendees: Most of Spain's bigwigs were present, including Filmax's Julio Fernandez; Mediapro's Jaume Roures; Wanda's Jose Maria and Miguel Morales; El Deseo's Agustin Almodovar; Tornasol's Gerardo Herrero; Telecinco's Alvaro Agustin; Kanzaman's Denise O'Dell; Notro's Adolfo Blanco; Morena's Pedro Uriol; LaZona's Ignacio Salazar; Rodar y Rodar's Mar Talgarona; ICAA's Manuel Llamas; ICEX's Paz Alvarez; 6 Sales' Marina Fuentes; Latido's Max Saidel and Imagina's Geraldine Gonard. Also more than 180 foreign sales groups, including the Weinstein Co.'s Ben Friedman; Samuel Goldwyn's Peter Goldwyn; Sundance Channel's Christian Vesper; Senator Films' Milada Rivarova; Pathe's Emil Elmer; Paramount's Berenice Fugerd; New Line Cinema's Alejandra Rossi and Palace Films' Karen Zeccla. Directors from Cannes' festival lineup present included Jaime Rosales and Rafa Cortes.

Cuisine: Plenty of French canapes were strategically placed around the venue, and the bars were accessible and well stocked, though at one point they briefly ran out of clean glasses.

Highlights/lowlights: Everyone there felt comfortable with each other and was happy to have time to meet up. The crush at the door was disheartening for many who tried to get in after the first 500 people arrived and had to stand on the sidewalk waiting for clearance. A bit of music, Spanish ham or paella would have added considerably to the affair.

Rating: 3.5/5
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