Cannes party lines

Canal Plus, 'Tyson,' more

(Le Suquet)
Canal Plus showed guests why they call it "pay" tv with the ubiquitous Cannes media giant's annual Cannes bash a star-studded, under-the-stars start to the fest's first weekend. Choo-choo trains brought partygoers up a winding street to the oldest church in Cannes -- Le Suquet. The incredible panoramic view from the hilltop proved a nice escape from the Croisette craziness as a who's who of Gallic talent and industry execs snacked and schmoozed at the tres French soiree before their nightly pilgrimage to Jimmy'z nightclub to round out the evening.
Attendees: Every Pierre, Jean and Louis-Philippe this side of the French border. Vincent Cassel arrived late, but "derailed" every lady at the party with his charming smile. Frenchiewood "it" couple actress Alice Taglioni and actor beau Jocelyn Quivrin made a grand entrance as the muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme and the "JCVD" team added some Belgian bling to the bash. Canal Plus CEO Bertrand Meheut welcomed directors Claude Lelouch, Tonie Marshall and Cedric Klapisch and some of the network's stars including Michel Denisot, Frederic Beigbeder and Thierry Ardisson. Israeli actress-director Ronit Elkabetz strutted her stuff on the dance floor.
Cuisine: It was all about the meat and greet as hungry guests lined up to sample the delectable steaks and beef kabobs grilling at a central island. Those looking for a bit of Spanish flavor before tomorrow's official "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" screening sampled paella bowls, while others stuck to French tradition and dined on bread and cheese or the mini cheese-olive bruchettas, ratatouille-filled puff pastries and tomato cakes floating around on trays all evening. The food was plentiful and continuously restocked, ensuring that no one went hungry during the cold, rainy night. Dessert standouts included mini pine nut tarts, lemon squares, chocolate-covered strawberries and mini brownies.
Highlights/lowlights: The panoramic view of Cannes from the hilltop church was breathtaking./Descending from said hilltop proved nearly fatal as one train heading downhill and another uphill blocked each other's paths and unfortunate passengers were forced to make the long trek back to central Cannes by foot.
Verdict: 4/5 martinis (Rebecca Leffler)

(Port Canto)
With very in-your-face sponsorship in the form of Nike and Grey Goose Vodka, the party for James Toback's Mike Tyson documentary felt more like a Sundance bash than a Cannes event but the crowd was up for it and a music mix heavy on hip hop and R&B kept everyone bouncing.
Attendees: Iron Mike and director James Toback were the stars of the show, huddling with some local talent in the party's tiny VIP area.
Cusine: Fitting for a bash celebrating the toughest man in boxing, the bar served only the hard stuff -- but plenty of it. The finger food, such as it was, ran out almost immediately.
Highlights/lowlights: The presence of Tyson, who initially refused to come but was finally coxed out of his hotel room by Toback./The lonely Nike sponsorship area, which featured golf video games, a replica soccer pitch and a baseball memorabilia area but, bizarrely, not a single boxing reference.
Verdict: 3/5 martinis (Scott Roxborough)

(Scandinavian Terrace)
The Meet the Danes event resembled a Dogme 95 film -- with little artificial lighting, do-it-yourself sets and no music. Though the company was pleasant enough, the party's main attraction -- the view of the Croisette -- was spoiled by the wet weather.
Attendees: A who's who of the Scandinavian industry including such luminaries as Danish Film Institute CEO Henrik Bo Nielsen and TrustNordisk execs Rikke Ennis and Susan Wendt as well as some non-Nordics like Munich Film Fest head Andreas Strohl
Cuisine: A mini smorgasbord of veggies, fruit, meatballs and sandwiches took the edge off starvation. Liquid entertainment came in the form of Danish Faxe Beer and wines in all three colors.
Highlights/lowlights: The event showed all the variation in pitch of a fine-tuned Bang & Olufsen stereo. Highlight? Lowlight? Who could tell the difference?
Verdict: 2/5 martinis (Scott Roxborough)

(Century Beach)
Friday night's schmooze laid on by the Middle East International Film Festival in Abu Dhabi was a well-paced evening in the exclusive environment created by the Cannes off-shoot of London's members-only Century Club. The soiree built from a relaxed and refined dinner buffet with live jazz trio into a pretty wild rave-up, with pumped-up punters pounding the planks into the small hours under a giant disco ball.
Attendees: Hosts Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, director general of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and Nashwa Al Ruwaini, director of the festival, welcomed Woody Harrelson and Goldie Hawn, both of whom they hope to entice to the Abu Dhabi event, which runs Oct 10-19. Ray Winstone also dropped in, but made an early exit.
Cuisine: A full free bar all evening including champagne kept revelers well-fueled. Sadly no strong Middle Eastern theme to the cuisine, but still a generous spread of hot dishes including rolled lamb, seared salmon and chicken kebabs complemented with rice, tabouleh, grilled aubergine and salad. The only Oriental touch was the pastries, including sweet baklava-style bites and "gazelles' horns."
Highlights/lowlights: Once the festival promotional niceties were over and the tables were cleared from the dance floor about 11p.m., the well-heeled crowd suddenly switched from industry networking to serious partying. Huge black balloons periodically detached themselves from the ceiling to be bounced round the dancefloor until they burst. The twin DJs including Kinky D -- who no doubt has the best Afro on the Croisette -- played consistently rocking music from Blondie and remixes of Abba and Bob Marley tracks before moving on to muscular techno. Some punters were so exuberant it was like watching a four-hour aerobic work-out with smiles.
Verdict: 4/5 martinis (Charles Masters)