Cannes: While Theft Continues to Plague Fest, Charity Event Hits the Carlton (Column)

9:38 AM PST 05/21/2013 by Sharon Swart
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In her latest Film Files column, Sharon Swart recaps the recent string of theft to hit the fest, and previews Tuesday night's big philanthropic bashes.

Torrential rain. Gale-force winds. Multiple thefts and muggings. Are locusts next in Cannes? (Well, reportedly, one big hotel on the Croisette has bedbugs.) 

Last week’s downpours and the $1-million Chopard jewelry heist were just the tip of the iceberg here in Cannes. I’m hearing almost daily reports of people who have been robbed in some way over the course of the festival. 

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A banker was mugged late at night near the Cannes train station a few days ago. And a five-bedroom villa rented by a group including CIT managing director Kevin Khanna and Silver Pictures COO Steve Richards was emptied of its valuables yesterday evening. (At least the burglars left everyone’s passports.) 

Though thefts always have been part of the reality here, this year it’s an epidemic — but not exactly incomprehensible. With the increasing amount of opulence on display during the film festival — startlets dripping in diamonds, Ferraris and Maseratis everywhere — it’s no wonder that Cannes is a magnet for crime. Especially when France’s economy is still in the toilet. 

On a brighter note this week, some of that opulence will be used for good. Among the big charity events happening here tonight are The Heart Fund’s dinner at the Carlton Hotel, and FilmAid and Naked Heart Foundation’s Beach Ball at Plage Royale. (Full disclosure, I am a member of FilmAid’s Board of Directors.) All three charities are making their Cannes fest dinner debuts. 

The Heart Fund event is co-chaired by Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard. The charity fights cardiac diseases in developing countries and will be raising money to build a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. One hundred red heart-shaped flying lanterns will be released from the Carlton Hotel tonight, celebrating the event and the 100th anniversary of the Carlton Hotel. Among those expected to be in attendance are Prince Norodom Ravichak of Cambodia, actor Gary Dourdan and Tichina Rolanda Arnold. 

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The FilmAid and Naked Heart Foundation dinner and auction is co-hosted by Inside Llewyn Davis actor Oscar Isaac and model Natalia Vodianova, who founded the latter charity. Naked Heart Foundation supports Russian children and families raising kids with special needs. FilmAid uses the power of film and media to bring life-saving information, psychological relief and hope to refugees and other communities in need.

FilmAid’s founder Caroline Baron flew in from New York and will be joined by guests including Richard Dreyfuss, Radha Mitchell and Lea Seydoux. Michelin-starred chef James Atherton is cooking dinner and Alison Moyet will perform. Already this week, 350 people showed up on Monday afternoon for a boules tournament benefitting FilmAid, hosted by Fintage House and Akin Gump. The afternoon event brings out the entertainment industry’s financial bigwigs for a heated jeu-de-boule competition. Among those there were banker Joe Woolf, Endgame’s Doug Hansen, Film Finances’ Kurt Woolner and event host Robbert Aarts, Fintage’s co-CEO. The boules winners were CJA/VITA’s Chris Johnson and and Coutts & Co.’s Neil Phelps.

On the radar for later this week is Cannes charity behemoth AmfAR, which will be celebrating its 20th Cinema Against Aids gala. Hosts include Sharon Stone, Jessica Chastain, Janet Jackson, Heidi Klum, Milla Jovovich, Carine Roitfeld and Harvey Weinstein. Duran Duran and Shirley Bassey will be among the musical performers at the Hotel du Cap-based extravaganza.

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