Behind several barricaded residential streets in Antibes, a peninsula about thirty minutes away from Cannes, an international cross section of rich-but-not-famous, famous-but-not-uber-wealthy, and the rare hybrid in the sweet spot of that glitzy venn diagram hunkered down Thursday night at the Hotel du Cap to raise $35 million dollars.
Thank artist Damien Hirst for nearly half of that and thank Robin Thicke and Lana Del Rey for performances.
Hirst dipped a wooly mammoth skeleton in gold to make the world’s most expensive extinct terrarium. No school field trips to the natural history museum for this piece of history. A bidder made the piece go extinct for $15 million.
Jessica Chastain knew what she was up against. “I can’t compete with these people to be honest,” Chastain says as she arrives, waving the white flag in advance . “I would love to walk out with a piece of Damien Hirst art, but impossible with my independent film salary.”
It’s a scene where amfAR rookie John Travolta casually spills the beans about a surprise performance by Andrea Bocelli and ponders my suggestion that he should auction off a ride in his plane, Justin Bieber shouts that he is there “to swag,” Bollywood’s Brangelina couple (who brought amfAR to India last November) happily stops to chat, and millionaire bearded bad boy of Instagram Dan Bilzerian goes from posting near-naked photos of his yacht-mate bed buddies earlier in the day to mixing with Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda after disembarking.
Bilzerian tells TheWrap: “I’ve had 500 offers” for reality shows.
Race-car driver Lewis Hamilton strolls in with on-again girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, (both British tabloid fixtures), in town to race at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. (Connecting the dots, his racing team Mercedes is also an amfAR sponsor).
Meanwhile: Sharon Stone cries.
Adrien Brody correctly pins the night as “part of the ritual of Cannes” as he makes his first of two arrivals. He would sternly tell his handler that he wanted to go back outside to sign for fans before making a second entrance.
The annual Cinema Against Aids gala falls with most people heading out of town on Friday, so it’s also a time to assess and evaluate the week.
For Harvey Weinstein, a host of the night with TWC and COO David Glasser, it’s a first glimpse of the finish line. He is still rattling off insights about “protease inhibitors” despite going through back-to-back late night negotiations.
“I’m just starting to get sleep now,” Harvey Weinstein tells TheWrap around 7:15 p.m. “That’s why I like amfAR. After this is done, then I sleep.”
The nap will have to wait. He still has one late-addition to the schedule, Friday night’s 20th anniversary celebration for “Pulp Fiction.” “That’s super cool,” he smiles. “My adrenaline will keep me up,” he promises before heading off with wife Georgina Chapman.
Meanwhile David Glasser, along with his brother in tow on Thursday, is fueling up to head around the world. One stop: film market in Japan by way of a stopover in Los Angeles for the weekend.
Weinstein’s partners Christopher Woodrow and Molly Connors at Worldview are also marking the end of the festival with some self-reflection.
“We had three films in the festival last year and nothing was received as well as “The Search,” Conners tells me.
Conners and Woodrow first found “The Search” director Michel Hazanevicious (“The Artist”) when “Harvey and Glasser” got them tickets to a screening at TIFF 2011, though they would not begin screening “Search” footage with the director until last November in Paris. Woodrow called hosting amfAR one of his personal highlights of the week.
Usually in these types of mega events, a sponsor gets exclusivity in their category (e.g. vodka, automotive, film company) but here there were two independent production companies on the masthead. Along with Worldview, Gary Michael Walters’ Bold Films (Gosling’s “Lost River”, Sundance winner “Whiplash”) also stepped up to take a leadership role on the masthead.
“We always win,” Conners quipped, squashing my inquiry in to any philanthropic arms race between producers.
Like Worldview and “The Search,” Walters is also coming off a week of mixed reviews for a film, Ryan Gosling’s “Lost River.”
When I asked how he approached Tuesday night’s high profile premiere after a day of Twitter one-upsmanship amongst critics ripping in to the film, Walters does not flinch.
“We have one agenda and one definition of success. Our standard is ‘Did our filmmaker, did Ryan Gosling, make the film that he dreamed of making?’. The answer is a resounding ‘yes’,” he tells me. “Therefore for us, the film is a triumph. We are ‘Bold Films’, not ‘What Do You Think Films’. In a town of followers, we are leaders. The movie was made modestly. It does not need to make $100m to be a financial success.”
While nine figures would of course be nice, he does have several pots on the stove too.
“I got reverse mugged this year,” Walters tells me of selling both the Jake Gyllenhaal film “Nightcrawlers” and Owen Wilson action movie “The Coup” at this year’s fest. “Both films in post, not for sale, and I got reverse mugged. Every buyer is like ‘take our money.'”
Nearby, Kevin Frost, amfAR CEO, made friends with Conchita Wurst, the “bearded-lady” who went viral around the world after winning the Eurovision song contest.
As early arrivers like racing heir Tamarra Ecclestone (also likely headed to the Grand Prix) and U.S. nightclub owner Ronnie Madra trickled in Frost whipped out his phone to show Conchita pictures of his twins, born seven weeks ago.
With several cameras capturing the moment, Frost accepted my suggestion that he was inducing a reality show moment. “We could take this to Bravo,” he said.
“That would be great,” reality show veteran Conchita agreed.
Nearby, Hofit Golan, an Israeli model who may not have missed a single red carpet in Cannes but was working here for Fashion TV, is humblebrag complaining of her nipples being exposed in an over-bedazzled dress.
“What up, mama,” Michelle Rodriguez greeted her.
You would be mistaken for thinking the night was instead called “Fashion Against AIDS”. Every name that a non-WWD newsletter subscriber like me did not know is a supermodel. Forty names all changed in to red to walk a catwalk and auction off all of their worn dresses as one lot.
“Every event gets better because I make more friends,” 19-year old L.A. native Gigi Hadid says.
“I like when they mix business and pleasure,” Bar Rafaeli added.
Business, pleasure, and $35 million. This cast of characters made it look easier than getting tears from a Stone.
BVLGARI, Heidi Klum, former French first lady Carlla Bruni-Sarkozy, Milla Jovovich, Kelly Preston, Aishwarya Rai, and Abhishek Bachchan were amongst the host committee.
TheWrap’s Party Report from Cannes is appropriately presented by a festive partner, Stella Artois, the official beer of the Cannes Film Festival for 13 years.