Recapping the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and amfAR Gala

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A highlight of my year is traveling to the beautiful French Riviera to attend the Cannes Film Festival and amfAR gala. Springtime in this beautiful southern region of France becomes the perfect setting for one of the most prestigious events of the movie industry. Actors, filmmakers, activists, and enthusiasts gathered to appreciate the finest of cinematic art over twelve days of showings, awards, and parties from May 13-24th. The 68th Cannes Film Festival held us in awe of the raw talent captured by the camera and in utter suspense as awards were announced. As usual, the winners were all quite deserving.

The event’s biggest award, the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm, in English), went to the highly acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard, whose dramatic film, Dheepan, follows three Sri Lankan refugees as they attempt to rebuild their lives in France. Son of Saul, a “dark, claustrophobic Holocaust movie” took home the Grand Prix while The Lobster won the Jury Prize.

A theme threading among films and speeches was that of sustainable living. The festival concluded on a serious note with Ice and the Sky, a powerful documentary on ecological science and climate change. Essentially creating a call-to-arms, “[director Luc Jacquet] said that it was the responsibility of film-makers to face up to the crisis. To not do so, he said, ‘would be criminal. I think it’s a moral duty. I have children. In different times, I would have made other films. But I make fierce cinema, political cinema, the cinema that has no choice.’”

A more festive occasion, the amfAR gala took place at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes. The annual fundraiser for AIDS awareness drew a wide range of fashionable A-listers. Attendees included Andrea Bocelli, Adrien Brody, Tom Ford, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bella and Gigi Hadid, Chanel Iman, Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima, Eva Longoria, Sienna Miller, Dita von Teese, Robin Thicke, and Chris Tucker, among many others.


The height of red carpet fashion, the gala was overflowing with women in exquisite designer gowns and men in sexy, sharp tuxedos. Indeed, a fashion show of the most decadent couture is a staple of the gala. While celebrities sipped cocktails and chatted with one another as though neighbors or lifelong friends, one couldn’t help but feel the camaraderie that surrounded this cause.

Overall, the gala raised more than $30 million for HIV/AIDS research. Coloring Book, an 18 ½ foot sculpture by Jeff Koons auctioned for $13 million while Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero’s statue, Donna su Cavallo, sold for $2.2 million. Leonardo DiCaprio auctioned off a private dinner and a seat at his table for his foundation’s upcoming gala in St. Tropez for $280,000.


Overall it was a wonderful experience I anticipate reliving for years to come.

About Irene Michaels

Over the past 25 years I have taken on the roles of a producer, publisher, insider journalist and fundraiser. My artistic interests began early in my teens working as a model and a dancer throughout the U.S. I formed my first modeling agency before I was twenty. While modeling I secured a re-occurring role in the popular daytime TV series General Hospital. Read more...