The gala — also attended by Adrien Brody, Paul Haggis and other famous faces — featured a live auction where an “underground safari” with Cumming went for $22,000.
At the Toronto Film Festival, a number of big names found a cause — the amfAR’s The Inspiration Gala — worth stepping out of the theater and putting business on hold for a night. But a few of the starry names on the roster came into Toronto specifically for the benefit.
“I flew in this morning, and I fly out tonight!” Alan Cumming, who hosted the event exclaimed. “I have jury duty tomorrow at 9 a.m. [in New York].” Hilary Swank, who chaired the event, said she sadly doesn’t think she’ll be catching any films while in Toronto during the festival either: She arrived only three hours before the event at The Carlu began on Sunday evening and was leaving the next day.
The actress seemed rather despondent about having such a short stay in the city, saying her favorite thing about Canada is “the people, hands down. Canadians are just so lovely, warm, generous. Optimistic.”
This isn’t Swank’s first time working with the charity for AIDS research, but she feels holding the event during TIFF is a good fit. “There’s so many people here, and it’s such a wonderful festival … the more people that are a part of it, the more people that are aware,” she said.
Like Swank, Adrien Brody is a repeat supporter of the cause (how he auctioned his own Cartier watch off her wrist at the Cannes amfAR gala was mentioned in a speech). But unlike the fellow Oscar winner, he has a film currently at Toronto: Paul Haggis’ Third Person. “I’m not really at the festival to party, I’m here to support my filmwork and represent the work that I do, and this is a nice added element to contribute,” Brody, whose film screens for the first time at Toronto on Monday, said of his presence at the charity event.
Director Paul Haggis was also in attendance at The Carlu on Sunday evening. “Some people party all night and go out, and I’m sure there are a lot of fun things to do. I was just in Europe prepping for a film, and I’ll be up early having a full press day to support the movie.”
Laying low may not be for everyone, however. “Paul might be out!” Brody said with a laugh.
The live auction held during the dinner included a few items. The “Marc Jacobs experience” consisted of a trip to his next runway show in New York, round trip tickets to New York and a stay in the Plaza Hotel and went for $12,000. As well, a night out with Alan Cumming in New York for four, which he dubbed “the underground safari,” featured round-trip airfare to New York and a tour with a special mixologist and went for $22,000. The evening capped off with a performance by Gossip, featuring Beth Ditto, who prior to the evening hinted about a performance with Cumming: “I think it’s going to be like fancy karaoke.”
The two did in fact perform together but not until after Ditto sang four songs with her own band and cracked a few jokes: “Just so you guys know, I’m wearing a pair of panty hose, then underneath that a pair of Spanx, then another pair of panty hose … and I’m having a huge stroke.”
Ditto and Cumming’s performance of Dolly Parton’s “Think About Love” over dessert concluded the evening.