For 20 years, amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS fundraiser has drawn some of the world’s most beautiful and wealthy people to its event at Cannes, but this year, as the star-studded party celebrates 21 years of raising money for AIDS research and education, its sponsors are facing a much different world.
Twenty years ago, AIDS was still front-page news, but now there’s an erroneous perception that it’s a manageable and even curable disease. That makes amfAR’s work of funding education programs and research even more urgent.
The Cannes events have raised more than $120 million; now the organization is stepping up with Countdown to a Cure for AIDS, aimed at wiping out HIV by 2020, with plans to invest $100 million in research over the next six years.
The May 22 Cannes event, at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, has a lineup of performers that includes Lana Del Rey, Robin Thicke and Aloe Blacc. Sponsors are Worldview Entertainment, Bold Films and Bulgari; Mercedes-Benz and the Weinstein Co. (Signature level); and Moet Hennessy (Grand Philanthropist).
“It’s our big cause at Bold and our biggest charity,” says Gary Michael Walters, president of Bold Films, now in its ninth year as lead sponsor of the Cannes event. “Like the film business, (AIDS is) global. What we do anywhere, helps everywhere.”
The Weinsteins got Christopher Woodrow and his Worldview Entertainment involved in the charity. Woodrow was impressed by what the organization was able to accomplish in 20 years.
“The night is always full of surprises, but the most important reason everyone comes is to support and raise money for amfAR,” says Harvey Weinstein.