AFM opens with bazaar bashes

'Ruins' screens at AFM event in Santa Monica

Ah, the sounds of foreign babel all over Santa Monica — AFM’s in session! And after a long day’s trudge through the market halls, international bizzers headed for the blitz of soirees Thursday. Among them:

Finance gurus congregated on the Shutters hotel roof for Continental Entertainment Capital’s drinks with hosts Ben Waisbren, Jeffrey Andrick and CitiBank’s Jamie Viceconte.

At Michael’s restaurant, Lakeshore’s dinner was populated with talent including Gerard Butler, Luke Wilson, Amber Valletta, Milo Ventimiglia and helmers Mark Pellington, Isabel Coixet and Ryuhei Kitamura.

And Paramount Vantage Intl./ Overture Films’ shindig at Tengu went late night, with mostly buyers left at the end. Insisting the partying was all business, Israeli distrib Guy Shani said dryly, “It’s L.A. How much fun can you have?”

— Sharon Swart

“My Life in Ruins” helmer Donald Petrie and thesp Nia Vardalos screened their new pic Thursday before a crowd of AFM-goers at the Abode Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Vardalos said shooting on actual ruins was a great source of inspiration.

“It was amazing: We would walk on gravel that would be 2,000 years old. Actors always look for motivation, and it was right there for me at all times.”

Film was shot over five weeks in Spain and two in Greece with a cast comprising 20 comedians present in almost every scene.

“We didn’t sleep: We were on jet fuel. It was pretty cool,” Vardalos said.

Petrie said in the midst of all the craziness, he and Vardalos developed a “great simpatico.”

“We got to a point where we would finish each other’s sentences.”

— Elsa Bertet

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