The Festival de Cannes celebrated Haiti: Carnival in Cannes last night, a benefit event on Thierry Fremaux's initiative presented by Giorgio Armani in support of Sean Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO), Paul Haggis' Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) and Petra Nemcova's Happy Heart's Fund (HHF), for their united and extraordinary work in Haiti. The charities' unity reflects their collective belief that more can be accomplished by working in partnership than alone. This event is the first of its kind for the Festival de Cannes since holding benefit screenings in 1984 and 1996. Additionally, this is the first time that three charities have come together with the support of the festival for one very important cause. Preliminary calculations of money raised total over $2 million.
An A-list crowd – the sort only the Festival de Cannes can procure – joinEd Penn, Haggis and Nemcova to offer their support. Guests included Gerard Butler, Diane Kruger, Jessica Chastain, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Ewan McGregor, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tom Hardy, Robert De Niro, Sean Combs, Joshua Jackson, Harvey Weinstein and more. Event Chairs Giorgio Armani, Roberta Armani, CAA's Bryan Lourd, MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd and the Festival's own Thierry Frémaux were also in attendance. Singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett performed three songs for the intimate gathering. President of Haiti Michel Martelly gave a taped video speech in appreciation of the work of the three organizations led by Penn, Haggis and Nemcova.
A live auction took place and featured many once in a lifetime experiences and items for guests to bid on. The lot that grossed the most money came from an impromptu auction of Sean Penn – to spend three days on the ground with him in Haiti. The experience went to three bidders, paying $100,000 each. Bono's own guitar and a meet-and-greet with him backstage at one of his shows went for $168,000, while a lunch with a Victoria's Secret Angel – along with VIP access to their 2012 fashion show – sold for $90,000.