Outraged guests were pushed and knocked to the floor by bouncers as scenes of violence erupted in Cannes at Saturday night's party for Michael Winterbottom's 24 Hour Party People.
One guest saw bouncers lock a man's arms behind his back and throw him through a gap in the barriers so he "landed on his face." Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, head of the Icelandic Film Corporation, which bought the film, has complained to sales agent The Works after he and Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki got in only to be thrown out for supposedly having the wrong colour wrist-band.
Kate Lee, from UK PR firm Freud Communications, went out to escort Morvern Callar star Samantha Morton into the party, which was attended by celebrities including Leonardo Di Caprio, Christina Ricci and Lenny Kravitz.
Lee, who is representing the Cannes competition film but did not handle the party, said she was "thrown out - and quite unpleasantly so" when she tried to come back in. Security staff knocked leading UK show business photographer Alan Davidson to the ground.
"Three of our key distributors were manhandled," said The Works, which paid for the party with United Artists. "One woman has bruises on her arm."
"So many people inside seemed to be French, friends of the party organisers rather than the film," said producer Andrew Eaton. "It was full of bad French dancers. That just pissed me off."
The Works hired publicist Emma Bewick's U Influence for the event. She in turn turned to upmarket Parisian night- and strip- club operators David and Cathy Guetta to provide the venue at a club that they operate right next to the Martinez Hotel. Bewick said that the Guetta's also provided the security for the party.
"We apologise to people who did not get in," said The Works spokesperson. "When they did get in it was a fantastic party, everyone said that'But it was really rough. It was a bad situation."
A Guetta spolkeperson confirmed that the bouncers were their own hirings and commented; " The party was supposed to be organised for 1,500 people, but they printed and gave away 4,000 invitations, so when people holding invitations started to react violently to the fact that they could not get in, the bouncers had to do their job." The Works, however, strongly denied that 4,000 had been printed - they said that just 1,500 were given out.
"Nobody was taking charge," said one person connected to the film. "There was a crowd of 400 people with tickets and the guards appeared to be just herding in their French chums, who did not have tickets, in groups of ten."
Security staff refused to admit some guests even though they had tickets. When some guests entered they were escorted straight to the exits.
Adding to the chaos, one guest said that the street had not been cordoned off, so cars bumped into the backs of the crowd, forcing people to push forward. "It looked like the bouncers panicked because of the build up in the street," he said. "It was a shambles."
Like last week's party at the same venue for Rosanna Arquette's Searching For Debra Winger, bar staff asked guests to pay around Euros 18 for a drink, although The Works had expected drinks to be free through sponsorship deals.