A must-buy book for first-timers bound for the male-dominated Cannes Film Festival, by two old-timers who began as observers 15 years ago and now have decided to combine their notes and tapes. The 45-year-old festival was put on the map in 1954 when French actress Simone Sylva ""threw off her bikini top and replaced it with Robert Mitchum's hands,"" a photo of which doings went around the world and defined Cannes forever as sex and cinema. Today, AIDS has reduced the extracurricular activities so much that Cannes has become a working festival. With about 1500 films to sort out at the two-week festival each May, the attenders, explain Beauchamp (a former NPR reporter) and Behar (a Le Monde reporter), fall into two groups: the ""moles,"" who try to see everything and discover an unannounced masterpiece--they start daily at 8:00 a.m. and stop at midnight; and the ""moths,"" who party, make deals, and see only a few films. The authors tell the smart way to get passes and hotel rooms and to cut costs. In 1979, Francis Coppola, at Cannes with Apocalypse Now, simply rented a yacht in the bay for the entire festival and cooked a lot. Sample of Cannes dialogue: ""Did you hear the hostages were released?"" ""Released? I didn't know they were in postproduction."" Beauchamp and Behar discuss the competing films, the marketplace, the partying, the stars, the studios, and America's presence in Cannes (as you enter the city, a sign declares: ""WELCOME TO CANNES, SISTER CITY OF BEVERLY HILLS, USA""); the critics, the agents, the flacks, the jury's selection process, and closing night. Special Jury Prize for Sheer Amusement.