Following the presence of several big name stars over the weekend, the shores of Deauville are much quieter five days into the 29th annual Deauville Festival of American Film.

Celebrities who made the trek to Normandy early in the festival included Harrison Ford, Roman Polanski, Tobey Maguire, John Cusack, Jason Biggs, Holly Hunter, Amanda Peet and director James Ivory.

And in a return to form following a nearly party-less 2002, fest goers were treated to a Saturday night bash for Seabiscuit at a local racetrack replete with performing horses.

On Monday, however, a post-screening party for 60s throwback Down With Love was a somewhat depressing affair hindered by pouring rain and low attendance.

Indeed, although Deauville traditionally finds itself running up against competition from the Venice and Toronto festivals and thus somewhat erratically populated, this year seems especially quiet. The Canal Plus villa, where select guests are treated to a DJ and free drinks each night was virtually empty on Monday night. Most noticeable perhaps is the lack of executives who can usually be seen partying with festival goers or lingering in hotel lobbies.

That could all change as we head into the weekend however as executives are expected to turn up for events like the premiere of Ridley Scott's Matchstick Men and a tribute to Jessica Lange. Even former Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure is rumoured to be coming to town on Wednesday.

While many might be tempted to blame recent relations between the US and France, festival managing director and founder Lionel Chouchan says, "It may be true that this year's festival is not the richest in terms of quantity, which could be a reflection on the economic crisis and the fact that major distributors released a lot of films in France this summer that we might have liked to have. But none of this is tied to what has happened between the two countries. Not one personality who is absent is motivated by the cold feelings. Creators in general were not really fans of the conflict much like most Europeans."

Still, attendance at official screenings - the festival holds a competition for independent American film as well as serving as a launchpad onto the continent for studio films - is high. The main cinema holds 1500 people and has been nearly completely full for all competition films to date. Unlike many festival's, Deauville's competition screenings are open to the public.

Meanwhile, over in neighbouring Trouville, French actor Guillaume Depardieu has received a suspended one year prison sentence for an altercation with a fan in which he brandished a gun.

The actor is the son of Gerard Depardieu and was only out of the hospital a short time following a leg amputation when the incident occurred in late August.