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cannes 2011

Kanye West Hits Cannes; Leonardo DiCaprio and Jon Hamm Approve

Kanye West performs at the Red Granite party at Carlton Beach.

How does a fledgling film company with seemingly endless cash make a splash at Cannes? Easy: throw a party on the beach and get Kanye West to perform at it. West isn't on tour in Europe, so for the emerging production company Red Granite Pictures to get him to play a private party in Cannes must have cost a pretty penny. They got their money's worth, though. West, a consummate performer, played for a full hour and a half, his white suit and face drenched in sweat by the time he was done.

He'd spent the first five minutes of the show (so we hear; entrance was absurdly tight), intermittently shouting out, "Turn it up!" to the sound folks, until, eventually, they relented. By the time this writer made it down through the many layers of security, he was singing "Heartless," all lit up in blue, his back to the audience the entire time. Other highlights included: "Runaway," with the piano refrain beautifully tweaked to sound even more urgent and angst-ridden (though the Auto-Tune overload was not appreciated); the crowd-pleasing "All of the Lights"; "Stronger," with West continually disappearing in flashes of smoke and lights; and "Gold Digger," during which West pretended to have a technical difficulty but instead pulled Jamie Foxx up to the stage. The crowd went understandably nuts.

At the party, giant black sculptures, created just for the event, lined a private pier as well as a full block of the Croisette. There were also abundant food offerings — something of a rarity at Cannes parties, we've discovered. Leonardo DiCaprio was there, looking like he was having a very good time; at the start of the festival, Red Granite announced they'll be making The Wolf on Wall Street, with DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, the finance hustler whose rise and fall already inspired The Boiler Room. Jon Hamm — whose Point West Productions company is partnering with Red Granite to make Friends With Kids, written and directed by Hamm's longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) — reportedly came in by boat from a yacht where he was partying, and then went straight back to the yacht.

Red Granite's extravagant party stood among the low-key film dinners being held along the beach, though it wasn't quite as wild as the (Belvedere) Red party. And neither of those two parties matched up to what some festivalgoers say was surely the most lavish bash of the festival: the Canal Plus party held in an old castle in the cobblestone hill neighborhood of Le Suquet. It apparently had dancers in Black Swan costumes circulating the massive grounds all night and a topless girl in a white dress descending from a tree on a swing, throwing flowers on the guests. Seems hard to top, but the festival is relatively young.

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images