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Glamour of Croisette draws big-name brands

Cannes lifestyle guide

HOLLYWOOD — Film festivals, particularly the paparazzi-soaked ones such as Cannes and Sundance, have become branding bonanzas for non-showbiz companies seeking an entree into the elite film world, which attracts desirable demos.

Many of these sponsors may claim to have a “natural” connection with the film industry, but the reality is that these fests provide incredible visibility in a starry setting.

And given the tough times in the entertainment biz of late, pic companies are more than welcoming a little help. A liquor sponsor can sometimes wipe out one of the most expensive costs of throwing a party in Cannes. Some event organizers — we won’t name names — are even charging hefty fees for sponsors to participate in VIP parties or venues in addition to whatever free product a brand might provide.

A taster of what festgoers can expect to find on and around the Croisette this year:

FIVE-STAR LUNCHES

Bon Appetit will once again wing over three chefs to Cannes to whip up meals at American Pavilion. This year Mario Batali, Todd English and Tyler Florence head for the Riviera. Co-sponsors Davidoff cigars and cognacs, Rodney Strong Vineyards and Viking Range Corp. make sure the boys are happy.

GLAM PATROL

Hair stylist Frederic Fekkai will be promoting his salons and products with a hands-on approach. He’ll work his magic on a small group of important red carpet queens, including first-time director Roseanna Arquette and the cast of her feature docu “Searching for Debra Winger,” a Cannes special screener about the careers of actresses in Hollywood. Pic features Winger, Patricia Arquette, Laura Dern and Cannes jury member Sharon Stone.

Diamonds, the ultimate glam accessory, will be ubiquitous in Cannes again this year. Official fest sponsor Chopard, maker of the Palme d’Or statuette, will drench divas in diamonds during the fest. And De Beers LV will be co-sponsoring AmFAR’s starry benefit dinner at the Moulin de Mougins, where a $100,000 diamond necklace will be auctioned for the AIDS reseach charity.

POURING PARTNERS

Vodka, the most competitive liquor category for entertainment events, will be everywhere in Cannes. Founder of Skyy vodka and cinephile Maurice Kanbar has made film sponsorship a priority. He sits on the board of the San Francisco Film Society, sponsors film fest prizes and often invests in film projects. This year, Skyy will be poured at a number of Cannes events, including the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival’s activities at the Martinez Hotel. Grey Goose vodka will be flowing at the Variety Village as well as on the “Hollywood” Sunchaser yacht, which will used for press junkets and events.

Dutch brewer Heineken will again be the beer of choice at the Variety Village as well as the Slamdunk Film Fest’s Terrasse on the Noga Hilton rooftop.

Patron Tequila, Pyrat Rum and Anheuser-Busch will be sponsoring yachts in the old harbor of Cannes near the Palais des Festivals.

STAR VEHICLES

Official car of the Cannes fest is Renault, but a number of automakers will be making their mark around town. Watch for a high concentration of chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz cars between the du Cap, the Cannes Croisette and Monaco. As the official patron of the Laureus World Sports Awards, unspooling in nearby Monaco on May 13-14, Mercedes will be transporting a high volume of VIPs around the Riviera in May.

Chrysler, which made a name for itself at Sundance this year with a sponsored lodge to launch the Million Dollar Film Festival, will be making similar moves in Cannes. The Chrysler Villa, situated on the top floor of the Hotel Martinez, will host parties, junkets and the MDFF finalists.

POWER TOOLS

Computer makers and digital pioneers will be showcasing their wares at a select number of locations. Microsoft Windows Digital Media is supplying the Cannes Market and the Noga Hilton-based Slamdunk fest with digital screening technology. And the Microsoft Windows Media player will be shown off around the fest, including at the Variety Village, where Dell is powering the entire computer network and email center.