Indie-film folks who attend American film festivals like Sundance are constantly fretting that the sponsored parties have overwhelmed the art, and the festivals have sold their souls. Cannes, strutting in its sparkly high heels, has no such qualms: The glam red carpets on the Croisette have always been integral complements to the festival. But while the many marches to the premieres are packed with paparazzi and stars in couture, they are all mere warm-ups to the festival’s most epic event: The red carpet for the annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS fund-raiser at Antibes’ Hotel du Cap, which last night rivaled the Oscars for star power.
There were famous faces aplenty: Russell Crowe, Emily Blunt, Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Marion Cotillard, Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Lopez, Gerard Butler, Camilla Belle, Benicio Del Toro, James Franco, and event host Alan Cumming — many of whom had flown or sailed in only for this party (almost nobody had seen a film at the festival that they weren’t in). There were so many stick-thin models you could have started a bonfire, and so many socialites (Paris Hilton, Denise Rich, Ivanka Trump), you could have started a new reality-TV channel. Mary J. Blige and Patti Smith performed, while Mick Jagger, in a black suit, just tapped his Nike Air Maxes to the rhythm.
Karl Lagerfeld, in his uniform of white jeans, white ponytail, and dark gloves and sunglasses, said the crowd looked much better than they do at the Oscars. “The fashion is fantastic tonight,” he said, seated at a table with Tom Ford. “At the Oscars, it’s fake. People wear what they think they should wear. Here, people wear what they like, not because they are obliged.” (Mischa Barton loved two dresses so much she did a mid-party costume change.) After he gave his commentary, two separate bidders offered up 600,000 euros each to have their portrait shot by Lagerfeld.
Longtime host Sharon Stone wasn’t present, but Cumming kept it bizarre in her honor, pledging that “the spirit of Sharon [Stone] is within me tonight.” Alas, not even Sharon’s aura could raise any bids for an onstage kiss with Ryan Gosling, offered up for 30,000 euros by host Harvey Weinstein. So Gosling broke into a kind of love song devoted to his Blue Valentine producer, with lyrics like: “Harvey Weinstein/That’s not right/He told me he was gonna kiss a guy tonight/for AIDS, ‘cuz AIDS ain’t cool … ” Then he tried a sing-along: “All you rich motherfuckers in here, say ‘AIDS aint’ cool!’”
Some of the rich motherfuckers did, in fact, sing along. More important, they spent big on other auction items. (Offering up a Dom Perignon Methusalem for bid, auctioneer Elizabeth Banks shouted, “If you know what that word means, you’re rich enough to buy it.”) The year’s fund-raiser raised 7.5 million euros in three hours to support amfAR, though one young woman said they could have done even better. “My sugar daddy spent 14,000 euros on me today,” she said, “But now I gotta get a billionaire. In this economy? A millionaire’s not safe enough!”