Weinstein vows to 'kick this disease in the ass'

CANNES — The 10th anni of AmFAR’s Cannes fund-raiser started on a somber note with emotional words about AIDS from Elizabeth Taylor and ended on a high note as Elton John (on piano), Lionel Richie and Macy Gray (on drums) jammed to a dancing crowd Friday at Moulins de Mougin.

A frail Taylor, helped to the stage by two men, spoke of “too much death,” adding that “there’s too much of everything horrible in the world today that you can smell it and that’s so depressing.” She concluded, “Our war with AIDS has come a long way, but it’s not over.”

Event chair Harvey Weinstein, however, would have none of that. As he bounded onstage he said, “We are not losing the war. The research is winning the war, we are not dying. What we started in Cannes 10 years ago has raised $30 million so far.

“I’m not competitive at all,” he added to laughter from the room, “but in the next five years I’m going to kick this disease in the ass.”

Spirited bidding for the auction followed. Among items auctioned off were two tickets to a Stones concert in Paris, with backstage access and a Versace dress (personally fitted by Donatella Versace), which Trudie Styler bid for and won, and a Volkswagen Beetle convertible bought by Luc Besson.

Others at the fund-raiser included AmFAR’s Dr. Mathilde Krim, Lawrence Bender, Adrien Brody, Liz Hurley, Iman, Tim Robbins, plus Cannes jury members Aishwarya Rai, Meg Ryan and newly hitched Steven Soderbergh.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more