While last night's Golden Globes can boast about having the highest number of famous faces in attendance, Saturday evening's Cinema for Peace bash appears to have gathered the most influential.
Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Mel Gibson, Orlando Bloom, Demi Moore, Hilary Swank, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, were just some of the A-list stars in attendance for an evening of fundraising for earthquake-devastated Haiti. Even Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey chimed in via video; along with live performances by Arcade Fire and Damien Rice.
“I think 2012 is the year we’re going to get Haiti back on its feet,” emcee comedian Bill Maher said on stage. “And next year, Detroit!”
Sean Penn, who founded the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, received yet another humanitarian award for his work in the country. The highlight, however, came when Haitian foreign minister Laurent Lamothe officially offered the position of ambassador at large for Haiti to Penn. He accepted, quipping that it would be useful to "change being called 'Hey you [bleep]' to 'Hey Mr. Ambassador.'"
Another act of incredible generosity came later in the evening when Oprah Winfrey via video announced that she would be matching all of the money raised up to $2.5M. Not surprisingly, the festivities went on to bring in $5M total for relief efforts; which included $500,000 for a customized guitar by Bono bought by performer Damien Rice.
Perhaps most surprising moment was the passionate speech by Arcade Fire front man Win Butler; who alongside his wife Régine Chassagne gave what NY Times reporter Melena Ryzik called an "electrifying" performance.
“We’re just a stupid indie rock band from Montreal, and just from that initiative, we’ve been able to raise millions of dollars,” Mr. Butler said, referencing the group's donation of some cash from every concert ticket sold. “It’s really a mistake to think of Haiti as a place where an earthquake happened to it,” he added. “The earthquake really revealed what was happening there.”
This isn't the first time that Cinema for Peace has thrown a successful fundraiser for Haiti. Back in May 2011, the organization held a dinner party during the Cannes Film Festival that raised over $1M.
To learn more about Sean Penn's efforts in Haiti, please jump here.