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“Now you all have a taste of what it’s like to be in a refugee camp.”
Standing on a mini-stage inside hip Cannes hot spot Nikki Beach and flanked by flat-screen monitors, that’s how FilmAid founder Caroline Baron on Friday explained to the several hundred revelers what had just happened at the organization’s joint festival party with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
It’s an arguably questionable description considering that the posh events space (filled with champagne, actors like Joel Edgerton and executives including Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard and Michael Barker) simply lost power and experienced a blackout that lasted more than five minutes. But the producer seemed to be in on her own joke. “Kinda funny, kinda not,” said Baron, who founded FilmAid to bring films to refugees.
What’s not amusing is that the outage occurred just as Jim Gianopulos, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, held the microphone, delivering a complimentary introduction to HFPA president Lorenzo Soria and detailing the organization’s philanthropic efforts. Gianopulos handled the electricity debacle like a pro and, moments later, the lights came on long enough for Soria to present a HFPA and FilmAid highlight reel.
Seconds later, though, the power cut out again and stayed off for five minutes as officials scrambled to source it. A beach generator was blamed, insiders noted, as others shrugged it off. “They have so many parties, it is unusual,” Gianopulos told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s just one of those things, but it all turned out well. There’s a good feeling in the room.”
That energy came when Soria led the crowd in an “impromptu” fundraising game that saw the HFPA and Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll volunteer up to $100,000 in matching funds for FilmAid. The crush of cash clearly made up for the loss of light, with other donations coming courtesy of Gianopulos via Fox, Fox Searchlight, Nikki Beach Worldwide owner Jack Penrod, Motaz Nabulsi, DDA, FilmNation Entertainment, Benjamin Larretche, CometLife and A24.