Diana Ross Gives Rare Performance at TIFF-Eve Fundraiser

Diana Ross Ambi Gala - H 2015

On the eve of the 40th Toronto International Film Festival, as film industry power players began arriving north of the border, AMBI Pictures — an upstart consortium of vertically integrated film development, production, finance and distribution companies owned and operated by Italians Andrea Iervolino, a prolific 27-year-old producer, and Lady Monika Bacardi, the rum empire heiress — hosted an event at the Four Seasons in Yorkville that set a high bar for the countless other parties planned for the 10-day fest.

Emceed by Canadian comedian Martin Short and closing with a rare, knockout 30-minute performance by pop legend Diana Ross, Wednesday night's AMBI Gala was the first of what its organizers say will be many fundraisers, in locales of relevance to the company, for causes they support. Subtitled "Cinema to Help the World," this one raised money — through sales of tickets to the event and a raffle that took place during it — for the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which champions environmental causes and aims to combat climate change.

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His royal highness, Prince Albert II, the son of screen legend Grace Kelly, spoke about his organization, noting that July was the hottest month in the hottest year ever recorded. The evening's honorary co-chair, James Franco, like his absent honorary co-chair Heidi Klum, is set to work with AMBI on upcoming projects. Others in attendance included Paul Haggis, Danny Trejo and Paul Sorvino.

AMBI, which is perhaps best known for producing 2014 TIFF selection The Humbling (directed by Barry Levinson and starring Al Pacino and Greta Gerwig) and which co-produced 2015 TIFF selection Septembers of Shiraz (directed by Wayne Blair and starring Selma Hayek and Adrien Brody), has offices in Beverly Hills, London, Rome, Dubai, Hong Kong and Toronto.