64th festival cannes poster
64th Festival de Cannes, 2011

The 64th Cannes Film Festival, which took place May 11-22, is being called one of the best in recent years, with a stellar selection of judges presided by the one and only Robert De Niro (who once said he would never return to France), the jury included actors Jude Law and Uma Thurman. Everyone was talking about the strength of the films in competition, such as Terrance Mallick’sThe Tree of Life starring Brad Pitt (which won the Palme D’Or despite being booed by the audience at the premier)Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia starring Kristen Dunst (who won for Best Actress)Pedro Almodovar’sThe Skin I Live in with Antonio BanderasWoody Allen’s Midnight in Paris with Owen WilsonLynne Ramsey’s psycho-horror We Need to talk About Kevin starring Tilda Swinton and RestlessGus Van Sant’s latest which was in the Certain Regard selection. It was also a special year for me to be at the festival, as my documentary short, In Face Of Disability, produced for The Untitled Magazine’s launch issue, was featured at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.

“In Face of Disability” directed by Indira Cesarine

I arrived in Cannes on Thursday, May 12th, and after dropping off my bags at my host Richard Haines’ boat, The Rose Of Kingston, the first thing I did was go to pick up my black Cannes director’s badge at the festival headquarters, which conveniently was located across the street from the port. As a director with a short film at the festival, I was able to access the majority of screenings of films in and out of competition. Being the first to arrive on the boat, I spent most of the day reviewing the catalogue of films, and selecting the must-sees. Tilda Swinton’s movie was high on my list, being one of my favorite actresses. I also wanted to see Pedro Almodovar’s film as he is such a brilliant director, as well as Woody Allen’s movie, which was far better received than his film at the festival last year.

The Rose of Kingston in port

Later that evening, after dinner on the boat with my host as well as the brilliantly fun artist Jeffrey Dread, who keeps everyone laughing, we headed out to Cathy and David Guetta’s Fuck Me I’m Famous party at Baoli. The venue was packed with fanatical dance club starry-eyed raver types, all with video camera phones pointed at the DJ booth in case they missed a moment of fame. The hype surrounding DJ David Guetta has clearly reached fever pitch, now that he one of the top DJ’s in the world, even celebrity guests were acting like star struck fans.  I ended up running into my old friend Evan Hainey, a talent manager from Untitled Entertainment, who I met many years back in New York, who was partying away with Rosario Dawson at Cathy Guetta’s table by the DJ booth. It was a fun start to the Cannes festivities, despite the slightly overwhelming crowd.

Evan Hainey & Indira Cesarine

On Friday, May 13th, my host Richard organized lunch at the famous Eden Roc Hotel, also known as the “Hotel Du Cap”, which is the place to see and be seen during the festival. Richard is well known for his book Cameleonwhich he plans to produce into a feature film (yours truly shot his portrait for the book jacket), and is a huge supporter of the arts, always with a very entertaining crew in tow. It was a perfect day for lunch at Du Cap, as the clouds had finally cleared. As we sat down, Antonio Banderas sat at the table to our left, and joining him was his wife Melanie Griffith and the legendary Jane Fonda, who was looking fabulous despite her 73 years. Tarrantino producer Lawrence Bender popped by the table to say hello, and I chatted with the lovely Amy Perfect, wife of restauranteur Livio Alvaro Bisterzo of London’s hot new restaurant 5 Pollen Street. I couldn’t resist later having a chat with Melanie Griffith, who was very sweet with her whispery voice, I loved her in Working Girl.

Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Cap D'Antibes
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Cap D’Antibes

Afterwards we met up with Rob Hersov for sunset drinks in the port on one of the many super yachts lining up. I chatted with the fascinating Yanou Collart, known for her fabulous Moulin Rouge hats, and film producer Tova Laiter. Somehow I ended up eventually at Cannes hotspot VIP, where I ran into New York nightlife’s ringleader Unik, who was in town for his Haiti fundraiser with Sean Penn, as well as Fawaz Gruosi from Grisogono, Mads Kornerup from Shambala Jewels. After a near fatal foot crush under Lawrence Bender’s SUV, I managed to make my way back to the boat for some much needed sleep!

Johnny Depp waving to the crowds

On May 14th, The Pirates of Caribbean premiered their latest sequel On Stranger Tidesstarring Johnny DeppPenelope Cruz and Geoffrey Rush, which opened on May 14th in Cannes to much fanfare. We had a perfect view of the excitement right from the upper deck of the boat, as the actors left the theater. Johnny was literally dragged away from signing autographs of his fans by his security, and Penelope looked fabulous in her blue dress as she calmly walked by, not stopping for fans. The Pirates latest film, which was not actually in the competition, but was a big commercial draw to the festival, wasn’t considered a masterpiece. Lacking a love story, the film focused on a hunt to find the Fountain of Youth, with all the sword fights and typical pirates fare we have seen in the previous 2 films, thus not really a surprise, but entertaining nonetheless if you like that sort of thing. Penelope was considered by most to be rather wooden in her performance, while Johnny Depp adeptly performed his role as to be expected, yet without any new twists to his character. It was the one of the biggest budget films to be screened, but was not necessarily the one most spoken about.

Penelope Cruz Post-Premier

On Saturday evening we decided to check out the Cannes Pop-up restaurant Nobu, which was situated on top of the Hotel 314, and had brilliant views overlooking Cannes. Owned by chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Cannes Festival Head of Jury Robert De Niro, the Pop-up Nobu was created for the 2 weeks of the festival, and did not disappoint. Many of the top restaurants and venues from around the world open up their pop-up versions for the festival, including Nikki Beach Club and Parisian haute boite Le Baron. Apparently next year The Box is planning to come to Cannes, which I imagine will be extremely well received, and will certainly spice things up.

Indira Cesarine, Victoria Hervey & Tamara Beckwith at Fashion for Relief

Monday evening after drinks with Louise O Riordan, who was hosting a cocktail on the boat next to us, I went with Victoria Hervey to Noami Campbell’s Fashion for Relief event.  Hosted at the historic Forville Market, the catwalk show featured Jane Fonda in a Marchesa Dress, Yasmin Le BonKarolina KurkovaNovak DjokovicVictoria Silvstedt, Rosario Dawson, Barbara Becker, Robert De Niro’s wife Grace Hightower, as well as of course, Naomi Cambell herself, who wore dresses by YSL and Alexandrer MqQueen. The event raised funds for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, with proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross. The afterparty was at restaurant / nightclub Baoli, where I ran into director Peter Martin and chatted with festival judge Jude Law.

Di Grisogono’s party at Eden Roc Hotel

On Wednesday evening, the Swiss Luxury Jewelry brand Di Grisogono threw their fabulously fun 10 Year Anniversary at Cannes event at the Eden Roc Hotel. The Gypsy Glam themed event was by far one of the most fun events of the week, with over 800 guests invited to the celebration. The Gypsy Kings as well as The Black Eyed Peas performed, and outside on the terrace they unveiled the de Grisogono X Maybach 62S Saloon diamond encrusted, bullet proof car. Naomi Campbell, Leonardo Di Caprio, Rosario Dawson, Bianca BaltiRob LoweGoldie Hawn and Boris Becker were some of the guests at the event. Leonardo held fort in a booth by the stage with Di Grisogono owner Fawaz Gruosi and Naomi Cambell, and a posse of glamorous guests / fans surrounded the table, hoping to be part of the excitement.  After the performances and fireworks, a group of us headed back to Leonardo’s villa for an exclusive after-party, which carried on until sunrise.

Rosario Dawson at the Di Grisogono event

On May 18th, Replay threw their much anticipated Cannes launch party of their new label, White Seal. The upper-market range of evening dresses, jeans and leather jackets for men and women features a lot of one-off looks and assymetrical cuts. Victoria and I had stopped by the Cannes showroom the day before to pick out Replay looks to wear to the event, which was at the Martinez hotel. I picked out an asymmetrical black silk dress with silver beading on the shoulder. It was a hard choice as the new collection has some great pieces, the leather jackets are also brilliantly cut. We headed to the party on Wednesday evening after the Roberto Cavalli store opening & cocktail. Rumour has it that they were so strict at the door, they didn’t even let actress Misha Barton in. After a rather slow start, the evening picked up once Jamaroqui came on stage to perform to the packed space.  They did a 2 hour performance of some of their best tracks and keep the party going until well after midnight.

Jamiroquai performing at the Cannes Replay Party

One of the final hurrahs of my 10 day Cannes experience was the amfAR benefit, which was also held at the Hotel du Cap.This year at the Cinema Against Aids Gala they raised over $10 Million for the Foundation for AIDS research.  In it’s 18th year at Cannes, the stars always come out in full force to show their support for the cause. Event chairs included amfAR Chairman Kenneth Cole, Janet JacksonPatrick Dempsey, Milutin Gatsby, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele, Milla Jovovich, Ryan KavanaughKarl Lagerfeld, Michel Litvak, Freida PintoCarine RoitfeldBrooke ShieldsGwen StefaniDonatella Versace, and Harvey Weinstein with many celebrity guests including Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Jude Law, Kanye West, Naomi Campbell, Uma Thurman and Kirsten Dunst. At the gala dinner there was a live auction with several items donated to commemorate the late Elizabeth Taylor, who was the founding chairman of amfAR, including a limited edition Herbs Ritts photograph of her which sold for 150,000 euros and an Andy Warhol Liz lithograph that went for 400,000 euros. 1 Million euros was raised by HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and his fiancée Charlene Wittstock for a chance to play tennis with the prince and a swim lesson with the Olympic swimmer Charlene. Even Karl Lagerfeld threw in his services by donating 2 private portrait sessions with him (plus a Couture Chanel Jacket) that were auctioned off for 180,000 Euros each. Following the gala there was official amfAR after-party at the Eden Roc, which this year was sponsored by L’Oreal Paris, and was hosted by Patrick Dempsey, Milla Jovovich, Freida Pinto, and Gwen Stefani.

Julia Restoin-Roitfeld & Robert Konjic at the amfAR after-party

The amfAR After-Party is always one of the more glamorous at Cannes with everyone dancing on the terrace wearing their gala gowns and black tie suits. I ran into Julia Restoin-Roitfeld with her boyfriend Robert Konjic as I arrived at the party, and chatted with them about the short film we did together for XXXX Magazine’s Voyeur Issue, The Crush. It was impossible not to dance, with DJ’s Samantha RonsonSebastian Perrin, and Michelangelo L’Acqua playing music late into the night. It was a brilliant and memorable Cannes event, with a few days to wind down before returning to the realities of the city.

Indira Cesarine & Hortense Du Rouet at Amfar’s After-Party

About amfAR: amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $325 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide. For more information, visit www.amfar.org.


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