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Shhh! Locals are sleeping!

Studios search far afield for party venues

PARIS — Nobody likes a party pooper, but that’s not stopping the mayor of Cannes from continuing his efforts to clean up the image of the fest’s fetes.

Beach parties are becoming more and more scarce and to organize a memorable bash, studios and party planners are having to search farther afield for their venues.

For years, organizers and local officials of Cannes have bemoaned the commercial freeloaders and tasteless bon vivants who wash up on the shores of the ville during the film festival in hopes of selling their products or their image.

Last year, the Hot d’Or awards — the annual porn fest — got the cold shoulder from Mayor Bernard Brochand and had to take refuge in a villa outside the city.

And in 2000, festival mainstay Cinema Against AIDS staged a Victoria’s Secret fashion show at the Palm Beach on the far end of the Croisette. The event ruffled the feathers of the town government.

In 2001, benefit organizers held their glittery gathering at Moulin de Mougins, comfortably outside city limits. The celeb-laden event, this year toplined by Elton John, Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, David Lynch and Iman, is once again at the mill.

The crackdown on late nights on the Croisette began in 2000, when the city held its local elections. After numerous complaints from Cannes residents that the festival’s parties had gotten out of hand and were giving a bad name to their fair city, mayoral candidates incorporated promises of reform into their platforms.

“2000 was the most difficult year,” says Helen Thompson, of Fusion Events, which specializes in Cannes parties. “It’s still difficult and it depends what you’re asking for, but the new mayor is quite young and of a business nature — he wants to bring money to his city and is amenable to working within the guidelines.”

Many residents of Cannes gain their livelihood from the markets and fests in town and are trying to get some sleep while the rest of the city is partying.

“The rules are to protect the residents of Cannes,” says a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. “These people are working during the festival and the noise can get to be too much for them.”

“If the customer wants a pumping party, we’re not going to try for the beach,” says Thompson.

And there are enforceable rules: The party must be affiliated with the festival or the market and must end at midnight, unless it’s for a film in Competition, and is then allowed to continue until 2 a.m., during which time the noise level must be considerably lowered.

What the local government and fest organizers are trying to avoid is bad rep.

“We won’t allow a party if gives a negative image of the Cannes or the festival,” the mayor’s spokeswoman says.

So party planners have taken to hills, ensuring that revelers can dance until dawn and still enjoy the balmy May air on the Cote d’Azur.