x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Film festival Aids gala hopes to raise $1m

Celebrities including Matt Dillon, Christina Ricci and Mandy Moore turned out for the Cinema Against Aids gala.

Matt Dillon called Aids
Matt Dillon called Aids "a universal condition".

DUBAI // Celebrities including Matt Dillon, Christina Ricci and Mandy Moore turned out for the Cinema Against Aids gala, which hopes tonraise more than US$1 million (Dh3.67m)for Aids research. They were joined by the chorus girls from the musical Nine, bringing glamour for a good cause - the Foundation for Aids Research (amfAR) - on the second day of the Dubai International Film Festival.

For Moore, a singer and actress from the US, it was the second time on the red carpet in as many days. Swapping Wednesday's Escada dress for a black vintage chiffon number and a new set of Cartier diamonds, she said: "It's nice to be here to support amfAR and the incredible work they have been doing all over the world." Dillon, who was hosting the event with Ricci, called Aids "a universal condition". While the UAE has a policy of repatriating people infected with HIV, the Aids virus, who try to gain residency, Dillon pointed out that his own country had had a 22-year travel ban on visitors with HIV, one that was lifted by President Barack Obama only in October.

"There are challenges around the epidemic in every part of the world," he said. Ricci said she had a "huge respect" for amfAR's research projects, adding: "I think we have become a little desensitised to Aids and really need to keep up awareness of it."

The event, held at the Dubai International Financial Centre, saw the auction of lots including a Swarovski crystal-encrusted portrait of Marilyn Monroe, an apartment in Dubai Pearl, and Cartier jewellery. It was presided over by Princess Haya al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and the film festival chairman, Abdulhamid Juma. Other celebrities at the event included the Indian actor Mammootty; the director of the Dubai film City of Life, Ali Mostafa; the fashion designer Ayesha Depala and her husband Dipesh, and the Egyptian star Rajaa al Gidawi.

Last year 320 expatriates were deported from Dubai after they were found to be HIV-positive. The Ministry of Health has pledged to improve facilities where expatriates with the condition are held. tyaqoob@thenational.ae