Reception rallies Cannes sidebar

With Oscar festivities behind them, the New York film community welcomed the opportunity for a pre-Cannes schmooze fest, held March 28. The occasion? The first annual cocktail reception in honor of the Directors Fortnight, the edgy complement to Cannes created in 1968. The place: The French Embassy, naturellement.

In its 34th incarnation, the Fortnight is getting more proactive in searching for new filmmakers, last year tapping Joyce Pierpoline as its U.S. correspondent. Pierpoline was on hand along with hosts Jean-Ren Gehan, the Embassy’s cultural counselor, and Marie Pierre Macia, Fortnight’s artistic director.

Macia gathered the crowd around, announcing that D. A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus’ doc “Only the Strong Survive” will be screened at the Fortnight, the first selected pic.

“We’re happy to have a stronger presence in the U.S,” said the vivacious Pierpoline. “It broadens the international profile of the Director’s Fortnight.”

Macia added that though she has been coming to New York for years to screen the new crop of American films before locking her selections, she was happy to host an event that more formally introduced Fortnight to the Gotham film community.

And much of it was there. Mira Nair, who won the Director’s Fortnight’s Camera d’or for “Salom Bombay,” was chatting up Pennebaker. Enjoying the generous spread were Arianna Bocco of Miramax Films and reps for GreeneStreet, Good Machine, Lot 47, Fine Line Features and United Artists. Also milling around were producer Lydia Pilcher, director Steven Shainberg (“Secretary”), Double A Films’ Amy Hobby and Andrew Fierberg, actress Sylvia Miles, scribe George Lavoo (“Real Women Have Curves”), producer Ben Barenholtz and Eugenie Grandval of Crossroads Films.

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