Quieter, gentler Cannes soirees

Deafening, all-night, overcrowded parties a thing of the past

CANNES — Party planners here have wised up — or else their pocketbooks have dried up. Either way, many fest attendees are relieved.

The standard Cannes parties used to be deafeningly loud, all-night affairs on the beach, with thousands of people with invitations trying to cram into relatively small spaces. But parties this year tended toward more intimate affairs, thanks to companies’ cost cuts and the city’s crackdown on noise levels and late hours.

Hangers-on trying to scrounge party tickets have been disappointed, but the movers and shakers seem to think smaller is better.

Sony threw a “Punch-Drunk Love” bash for 150 guests at the Palm Beach May 19. Two nights later, HBO Films hosted the same number at an intimate, classy dinner at the Majestic Hotel Terrace. New Line invited only 250 to a Carlton cocktail party before its competition screening of “About Schmidt” May 22. Vanity Fair threw its traditional small affair at the Hotel du Cap May 18, shutting out the press.

The city’s recent noise limits led to a slew of out-of-town fetes in the past two years: mob scenes that required a one-hour bus ride to sites exempt from the regs. This year, the only such film party was the MTV-MGM-James Bond bash at Pierre Cardin’s villa, which got a thumbs-up from attendees.

Speaking of Cannes party rules, two events in the Martinez hotel nightclub broke a sacrosanct tradition: They charged guests for drinks. Sacre bleu!

The “24 Hour Party People” bash had more problems than a no-host bar: The ’80s-themed event tops many lists for worst fest party ever.

Aiming to re-create the dance parties from late-’80s Manchester, England, depicted in the film, organizers imported from Paris set up a velvet-rope system. Bouncers ignored those who had invitations and began tossing around would-be guests, with several injured in the scuffle.

The pushing and shoving outside was compounded by the lack of atmosphere inside. The whole thing offered a lesson to all Cannes party planners: Don’t try to re-create the past.