amFAR, the organization founded by the late Dr. Mathilda Krim and Dame Elizabeth Taylor (the International Founder), dedicated to funding AIDS research since 1985, held its annual Cannes Gala tonight at the Hotel du Cap as she has been doing it for 29 years linked to the end dates of the Cannes Film Festival each May.
Queen Latifah was the enthusiastic host to a very energetic crowd which included Alex Pettyfer, Eva Longoria, Fan Bingbing, Heidi Klum, James Marsden, Jeremy O. Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Kate Beckinsale, Matt Smith, Odell Beckham Jr, Petra Nemcova , Rebel Wilson, Sadie Frost, Shay Mitchell, Storm Reid, Teyana Taylor and many more. Live musical performances were from Adam Lambert (sensational in two numbers, including one brilliantly in memory of Tina Turner), Halsey, Bebe Rexha and Gladys Knight, who looked like she had stopped time with “Midnight Train To Georgia”.
As has been the case for years, Carine Roitfeld coordinated an elaborate fashion show with 19 models parading under the huge marquee where the event was once again held. The highlight of the evening was the big-budget auction hosted by Simon de Pury, and one of those items was all of the designer wardrobes displayed collectively at the Icons Collection CR Runway Show. In recent years the collection has exceeded one million, but this year only $600,000.
Among the most interesting items to be won by the crowd that seemed very wealthy if not terribly famous – one photographer said yours truly was the first person he recognized as he walked down the stairs to the beautiful setting of Cape Town against the ocean – was a launch edition of the all-new Aston Martin model (the brand that James Bond made famous, of course) that wasn’t even revealed to the world until last night. The winner of this auction will be invited to the Formula 1 race of his choice and will receive his new car there. The car’s final price at the auction held by Marsden and Longoria was $1.5 million (!)
I caught up with Longoria at the pre-reception to tell her how much I love her directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot. I saw it again on SXSW, but it’s a really smart movie and like I told him, I just wish it was in theaters as well as a historic double launch on Disney+ and Hulu. “We had a qualifying race,” she told me. “But everyone seems to like it, so I wish it were in theaters too. Here in Cannes, we’ve spoken to people from all over, and the response has been great. The Germans seem to like it especially.
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Aston Martin and the Red Sea International Film Festival were the presenters at the Cannes Gala. The Signature Sponsor was Chopard, who donated a pair of 18k white gold Haute Joaillerie earrings set with pear-shaped emeralds weighing 9.77 carats and diamonds weighing 7.3 carats.
Also on the block was a Damien Hirst painting of Leonardo DiCaprio (he was all over Cannes due to the world premiere of his film The Moonflower Slayers last weekend) and signed by Hirst and DiCaprio. The man himself, decked out in a baseball cap as usual, showed up late but just in time to see his painting sell for the gargantuan sum of $1.2 million.
The auction of a stunning 80-inch icosahedron by Anthony James – the only visual artist to have had his work exhibited on seven continents – which featured in the film was also geared towards the cinema. Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads. I thought this installation, this sculpture or whatever you call it, was spectacular and I’m a little surprised it only cost $250,000. Along with numerous other works of art, a portfolio of photographic models and a week-long jaunt to Iceland, bidding was generous in some cases, but generally lower than past years have brought. All proceeds go to amFAR’s ongoing search for a cure for AIDS.
A regular at the Cannes Gala, producer Gary Michael Walters, who was a sponsor when he was with Bold Films, told me that he was frustrated to sit still and that he now has a few films in production, including one that should end June 30. – the day the SAG/AFTRA agreement expires, no coincidence. Walters joked, “I’m just waiting for an AI to invite me to lunch!”
Even without the A-list (or AI) star power of years past, especially when Harvey Weinstein forced his stars to come, it was an impressive event, the tent particularly breathtaking from head to toe with its stylish ceiling Michelangelo reflecting the tables below. Good.