CAP D’ANTIBES, France – The drought affecting the Cannes party circuit ended Friday night as every major star at the annual film festival headed to entrepreneur and producer Charles Finch’s annual Filmmakers Dinner at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc here.
With blustery skies providing a suitably cinematic backdrop, guests including Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joel Cohen, Noomi Rapace and Abel Ferrara turned out to celebrate the evening’s honoree, director Gus Van Sant, in town to present “Sea of Trees” in official selection.
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Gyllenhaal begged off comment on reports that he has signed up for Tom Ford’s new movie, “Nocturnal Animals.” Variety first reported in March that the “Brokeback Mountain” star was in discussions to star in the film opposite Amy Adams, and the fashion designer was in town earlier in the week to present the project to international buyers.
“The Mentalist” star Simon Baker, meanwhile, was seeking backers for his feature film directing debut, “Breath,” based on the novel by Australian author Tim Winton. “I will start shooting it later in the year,” he said. “Surfing is part of the backdrop of the film, but it’s really more about identity and rite of passage.”
Festival regulars have noted an absence of major studio parties this year, with Thursday’s premiere of “Mad Max: Fury Road” culminating in an intimate dinner, instead of the mass bacchanals of yore. That hasn’t stopped the movie from garnering rave reviews, with a 98 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Yeah, it’s been insane,” acknowledged Zoë Kravitz as she took her seat at the Finch dinner. “I mean, I’m not surprised because once you see the film, it makes a lot of sense, but it’s been such a long journey and so now that it’s finally out there and the response is so positive, it just feels, really, really good.”
The actress and singer will barely have time to catch her breath: Next week, she will be back to present “Dope” as part of the festival’s Directors’ Fortnight, before heading to Paris to play a concert with her band Lolawolf at the Afropunk festival.
It’s also been a whirlwind week for her costar Courtney Eaton, making her film debut in “Mad Max.” The 19-year-old Australian was still reeling from the red carpet experience. “I was glad I was with the cast because the press was insane. I feel like all the cameras in the world were there, but it was incredible,” she said.
Eaton’s next project is equally high-profile: The epic “Gods of Egypt,” starring Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. “It’s a big action film kind of thing about Egyptian mythology, a big battle between the gods and humans,” she explained.
It turns out even Cannes veterans get freaked out by its red carpet. “It’s always an ordeal,” said Catherine Deneuve, whose movie “Standing Tall” started the festival on Wednesday. “It’s huge, you know, that red carpet. It’s particularly wide, so you really feel like you’re on a highway.”
Benicio Del Toro will have to walk it twice this year. In addition to thriller “Sicario,” which is competing for the Palme d’Or prize, he will be presenting the animated adaptation of “The Little Prince,” in which he voices the snake.
“It’s the first time I’ve got two movies,” noted the “Che” star, who has plenty to keep him busy between screenings. On Sunday, he will host the Hollywood Domino brunch to raise money for victims of the earthquake in Nepal, and later that day he will present a restored version of Luchino Visconti’s “Rocco and His Brothers.”
“I think Alain Delon is amazing in it,” he said. “I feel like I want to be in movies like that.”
In a speech capping the evening, hosted in partnership with Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre, Finch had guests in stitches by recalling his disastrous entrée into the film business, as producer Harvey Weinstein gave a knowing grin.
“Harvey came to my first screening here at Cannes when I made the worst movie that’s ever been made,” Finch said. “People ran from the cinema, and I’ll never forget the critic of the London Times who saw me, who’s called Barry Norman, I think his name was, and just was white. He said, ‘Your father had a great deal of talent.'”
The film in question, according to imdb.com, was “Priceless Beauty,” starring Christopher Lambert as a rock star who finds a female genie in a vase. Yes, really. Finch has since graduated to more promising material. His production company Pink Sands is developing a Mata Hari biopic directed by Martha Fiennes and a series with Scarlett Johansson based on Edith Wharton’s novel “The Custom of the Country.”