amfAR Raises Over $2 million at Venice Film Festival Gala

Ava DuVernay Honored

Rita Ora and Leona Lewis Performed

PHOTO LINK HERE: Press Release Photos

Over $2 million was raised at amfAR Gala Venezia last night during the Venice Film Festival. Groundbreaking filmmaker Ava DuVernay was presented with the Award of Inspiration. Rita Ora and Leona Lewis gave special performances.

Guests in attendance included Ava DuVernay, Rita Ora, Leona Lewis, Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Michelle Rodriguez, Taika Waititi, Luke Evans, Bella Thorne, Carla Bruni, Beatrice Grannò, Jesse Williams, JC Chasez, Alberta Ferretti, Camila Mendes, Rudy Mancuso, Lara Leito, La La Anthony, Nolan Funk, Boman Martinez-Reid, Mohammed Al-Turki, Guy Burnet, Dilan Deniz, Daniela de Jesus Cosio, Renee Blythewood, Lauren Sintes, Francesco Vezzoli, Sofia Resing, Maryam Zolghadr, Sveva Alviti, Nicolò Beretta, Caroline Scheufele, Hofit Golan, Emir Uyar, Umberta Gnutti Beretta, Anna Lewandowska, Simone Marchetti, Raja Rajamannar, Thássia Naves, amfAR Board Co-Chair T. Ryan Greenawalt, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost and more.

Longtime amfAR supporter Milla Jovovich and amfAR Board Co-Chair Ryan Greenawalt opened the evening by bringing attention to the importance of continuing to work to improve the lives of people impacted by the HIV epidemic, highlighting that while incredible progress has been made, there is still much to be done and continued support is essential. Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar also took the stage to further highlight the importance of supporting amfAR’s lifesaving research.

Later in the evening, award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi presented Ava DuVernay with amfAR’s Award of Inspiration. While accepting her award, Ava described what it meant to truly inspire someone – she went on to say how it was her Aunt Denise who showed her West Side Story for the first time, which kindled her passion for filmmaking. Her new film, Origin, which is an official selection of the Venice Film Festival, explores issues around social justice and DuVernay drew the connection to the fact that the fight against HIV/AIDS is part and parcel of the global struggle for social justice; there are nearly 40 million people living with HIV worldwide with more than half in sub-suburban Africa.

Auctioneer Michael Macaulay led the live auction, which included a variety of contemporary artworks and one-of-a kind luxury items and experiences. Auction items included pieces by Mr. Brainwash, Yves Scherer, and Andy Warhol, a Queen + Adam Lambert Concert Experience, a pair of Chopard Haute Joaillerie earrings, and a UEFA Champions League Player Mascot Experience.

In between auction lots, Michelle Rodriguez, Mohammed Al-Turki, and Lucas Bravo introduced Leona Lewis, who sang “Over the Rainbow,” “Gladiator” and “Bleeding Love/Higher Love,” accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra. Rita Ora closed the night and brought the crowd to its feet with three of her hits “Let You Love Me,” “I Will Never Let You Down,” and “Praising You.” Ora was also accompanied by the Aria and Friends Orchestra.

Presenting Sponsors were Mastercard and Red Sea International Film Festival. The evening’s Signature Sponsor was Chopard and San Clemente Palace was the official hotel partner. The event was also supported by Campari, Boroli Wines and RUMOR Rosé.

About amfAR
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and advocacy. Since 1985, amfAR has raised nearly $900 million in support of its programs and has awarded more than 3,800 grants to research teams worldwide.

About Red Sea International Film Festival
Red Sea International Film Festival provides a platform for Arab filmmakers and industry professionals from around the world to connect, host feature and short film competitions, and present a series of events, masterclasses, and workshops to support emerging talent. Running alongside the Festival is the Red Sea Souk, the Festival’s industry market, designed for global exchange and partnerships between the international and Saudi film industries. The four-day market will offer a packed program of curated events to foster co-production, international distribution, and new business opportunities. The Souk offers unbeatable access to the new vibrant Saudi scene, as well as the best of the Arab market through pitching sessions, one-on-one meetings, screenings, industry talks, and networking events.
For further press information:

About Mastercard,
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

Event Consultation by Andy Boose / AAB Productions
Contact: Bennah Serfaty, amfAR Senior Director, Communications,