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“The space here is great,” said Robert De Niro as he took the stage at IWC’s For the Love of Cinema event on April 17 at an intimate dinner for just over 100 guests to celebrate and raise funds for the Tribeca Institute.
“It’s Donna’s space,” shot back his fellow Tribeca Film Festival founder Jane Rosenthal of the second-floor loft in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village that is usually part of Donna Karan’s Urban Zen concept, but had been transformed for the night by hundreds of glittering candles, elegant long tables in white tablecloths and the stage where Estelle would sing at the end of the night.
“And look what Georges did to it,” De Niro countered.
The Georges in question is Georges Kern, the CEO of watch brand IWC Schauffhausen, which is turning into one of the luxury world’s most prominent patrons of film. Over the last few years, under Kern’s direction, the company has become not only a sponsor of film festivals in London, Beijing, Zurich, Dubai and New York, but also established prizes to help young filmmakers bring their independent movies across the finish line.
The Tribeca Film Institute’s IWC Filmmaker Award was presented to Jay Dockendorf, a tutor by day, director by night, who, along with his producers Jacob Albert and Margaret Katcher, was given $25,000 in finishing funds to complete their feature film about two closeted teens, both Muslims, who live in Brooklyn and who become, unwittingly, caught up in the War on Terror. IWC donates a further $100,000 to the film institute for its work in promoting filmmaking and artistic expression.
The night brought out a score of celebrities, filmmakers, high-powered film supporters and watch lovers. Enjoying the dinner were longtime IWC ambassadors Susan Sarandon and Karolina Kurkova, Whoopi Goldberg, Dev Patel, Adepero Oduye, James Marsden, Patrick Stewart, Armie Hammer, Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Matthew Modine, Heather Graham and Karen Elson. Boardwalk Empire creator and Wolf of Wall Street writer Terence Winter and his wife Rachel, producer of Dallas Buyers Club, chatted with Crash and Third Person director Paul Haggis. Others in the crowd included Levi’s president James Curleigh (a juror of the fest’s #6SecFilms competition) and art dealer Tony Shafrazi. New York Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony, co-founder of watch magazine Haute Time, told THR he’s looking forward to heading to Switzerland soon to see watch brands in person; he can’t make it to the big watch fairs, SIHH and Baselworld, because basketball season is always ongoing at the same time.
As part of its partnership with the fest, IWC has created a specially engraved “Tribeca Film Festival 2014” Pilot Watch Spitfire Chronograph ($11,600) in a limited edition of 100. And on April 9, it auctioned off a one-of-a-kind version of the watch, done in 18-karat gold at New York’s Antiquorum. It sold for $55,000, generating part of the total $100,000 gift from IWC to the Tribeca Institute. “We don’t view this as a donation, we view this as an investment,” said the institute’s executive director Beth Janson, calling the young filmmakers “cultural entrepreneurs.”
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