By Susan O'Neill Posted September 16, 2009, 2:35 PM EDT
Amfar, the Foundation for AIDS Research, partnered with Dignitas International to host the first Cinema Against AIDS Toronto fund-raiser at the Carlu Tuesday. The event, which featured performances by Sarah McLachlan and Deborah Cox, attracted 400 guests, including Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; Miranda Richardson; Amfar ambassador Michelle Yeoh; and Nobel Peace Prize winner and Dignitas co-founder Dr. James Orbinski.
“Cinema Against AIDS, this particular branded event that we do in conjunction with film festivals, was actually started in 1993 at the Cannes Film Festival by Dame Elizabeth Taylor, our founding chairman. That event did so well and Amfar’s relationship with the film industry has been so strong that it has just grown and grown,” said Franklin G. Fry, Amfar’s director of special events.
The events have been held at festivals in Venice, Rome, and Dubai, and at Sundance. “We’ve been looking at Toronto for a couple of years,” Fry said, noting that Tuesday’s event marked the first time Amfar has partnered with another organization on a Cinema Against AIDS initiative.
“Amfar’s mission is looking at innovative ways to research a cure for AIDS and treatment for AIDS, and Dignitas is looking to apply a new model of implementation of treatment and care on the ground regarding AIDS,” Fry said. ”So the partnership between the two organizations really carries from laboratory all the way through to the patient.”
Jeffry Roick of McNabb Roick Events chose an Old-Hollywood feel for the fund-raiser, which began with a cocktail reception in the Carlu's grand foyer. Brown wing-back chairs, grey sofas, candles, and old searchlights filled the space, accented with greenery and yellow orchids from San Remo Florist. Black and gold, the colours used in the invitations, filled the dining room. Uplit glass bowls holding yellow Oncidium orchids served as centerpieces, and gold linens topped tables surrounded by black honeycomb chairs. Sheer white fabric and four 12-foot chandeliers hung from the ceiling.
“We like reaching for the most elegant of evenings because the ticket price is $1,000, which we know is a lot,” Fry said, ”and we want to make sure the evening feels like that over the course of the night.”
Jamie Kennedy catered the dinner, which began with ratatouille in pastry with summer vegetables followed by barbecued beef tenderloin with two piquant sauces, acidulated gaufrette potatoes with chanterelle mushrooms, and green and yellow beans. Pear and caramel cheesecake was served for dessert.
A live auction offered guests the chance to bid on items like a New York Fashion Week package, including tickets to attend Amfar's New York Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street in February, private tennis lessons with W.T.A. player Jelena Jankovic, and a ski vacation in Courchevel, France. The event concluded with an after-party in the Carlu’s Round Room, sponsored by Grey Goose.
Event sponsors included Sullivan Entertainment, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Cartier, BMO Financial Group, Brookfield Properties Corporation, Burgundy Asset Management, Gucci, Rave Motion Pictures, and RIM.