Cannes 2012: Fest to Host Dinner and Concert to Benefit Three Haiti Charities

5:44 AM PST 05/03/2012 by Rebecca Leffler
Lee Celano/Getty Images

The Festival will host a gala dinner and "Carnival in Cannes" concert to benefit charities: Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Artists for Peace and Justice and the Happy Hearts Fund.

PARIS - The Cannes Film Festival will take time out from the media circus for a "Carnival in Cannes" gala dinner to benefit Haiti, starring Sean Penn, Paul Haggis, Petra Nemcova and Giorgio Armani.

Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) and Haggis' Artists for Peace and Justice and Nemcova's Happy Hearts Fund are joining forces for the humanitarian event to benefit the Haitian cause.

The gala fund raising event is the first in the festival's history since the benefit screening of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America in 1984 in support of the Institut Pasteur and the screening of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s film Elective Affinities in 1996 to support the reconstruction of the Fenice, an opera house in Venice, Italy.

Armani will host a fund raising dinner on Friday, May 18 at the Festival Agora. All funds raised at the gala will benefit all three charities for aid in Haiti.

Guests will be treated to a Haitian concert called “Carnival in Cannes" featuring authentic RaRa and Racine music from the RAM band who will be flown in from Haiti.

Chopard will co-sponsor the event.

Thierry Fremaux had tweeted weeks ago that Penn would be in Cannes "in his best role yet," though Fremaux neglected to mention the role was off screen. Penn has been a familiar face on screen in Cannes over the years having presented several titles as actor and director in competition and serving as Jury president in 2008.

"Sean Penn is both a great actor and director. What he does above and beyond that for the people and the land of Haiti, giving freely of himself, his abiding presence, his work – one could almost say the work of his own hands – his whole discreet, human, moral and altruistic involvement as a benefactor, commands our greatest respect," fest topper Gilles Jacob said. Thierry Fremaux called Penn "a good friend of the Festival de Cannes" and Armani described him as "a man cut from a very rare cloth" and "a world-class force of nature.

J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO)'s goal is to help lift the nation of Haiti out of the rubble by improving living conditions, clearing rubble, and providing medical services, education and enrichment programs, housing construction, and neighborhood redevelopment. Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) is a non-profit organization founded by Haggis and friends in 2009 that helps children and their families in the poorest communities in Haiti by supporting programs through the Academy for Peace and Justice, the first free secondary school in Port-au-Prince.

Happy Hearts Fund (HHF) is dedicated to rebuilding schools and restoring hope and opportunity in the lives of children after natural disasters.

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