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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Cannes Aids benefit dazzles
Dame Elizabeth Taylor arriving at the Moulin de Mougins restaurant
Dame Elizabeth: Ninth year as event chairman
An Aids benefit night at the Cannes Film Festival drew an array of stars that was almost as glittering as its other main attraction - $25m (17.5m) worth of diamond necklaces.

Dame Shirley Bassey, who performed Diamonds are Forever, and Dame Elizabeth Taylor, were among the guests at Thursday's event.

The twelve one-off necklaces, which will be auctioned at a later date to raise funds for the American Foundation For Aids Research (amFAR), were put on show.

Model Naomi Campbell arriving at the Moulin de Mougins restaurant
Naomi Campbell: Wore diamond necklace
And the Cinema Against Aids dinner, now an annual festival date, was also attended by supermodel Naomi Campbell, director Terry Gilliam and actress Julia Ormond.

Dame Elizabeth, 69, said she and ex-husband Richard Burton once rented a house near Cannes, and that coming back to raise money for Aids is "the thing that's most important to me now".

It is the ninth year she has chaired the event.

"Richard and I rented a house in St Jean, Cap Ferrat, and it's just one of my favourite spots on the earth," she said.

"Coming back and... raising money for Aids gives me a great sense of joy."

She told guests during a speech: "It's time we stopped this killer now. It's time we hunted it down, rooted it out and showed it to the door.

Director Terry Gilliam with companion
Gilliam: Judge at this year's festival
"That's where you come in. We need you, and your cash."

Dame Elizabeth wore a dress encrusted with jewels, sparkling diamond earrings and a 33-carat diamond ring that was given to her by Burton.

Dame Shirley said the song for which she is best-known, Diamonds are Forever, sends up the fact that diamonds never leave you, "whereas men do".

Jerry Hall, former model and ex-wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, agreed, saying she prefers diamonds to men.

"They last longer than rock stars," she joked.

A costume worn by Julia Roberts in the Oscar-winning film Erin Brockovich and a lunch with former President of the Soviet Union Mikhael Gorbachev are up for grabs at the auction.

The Cinema Against Aids events have been held every year since 1993, and had raised more than $7m (5m) before this year's dinner.

The A Diamond Is Forever collection will go on display at Sotheby's in New York from 8-13 June.
Actress Nicole Kidman
Kidman: To star in "erotic thriller"

Elsewhere at Cannes, it has been reported that a deal has been struck to make Jane Campion's new film In The Cut just two months after backers pulled out.

Described as an erotic thriller and starring Nicole Kidman in one of her "deepest, richest and most challenging" roles yet, it could be shot in New York later this year.

Campion, who directed The Piano and The Portrait of a Lady, will adapt Susanna Moore's novel of the same name, according to Variety magazine.

Kidman, who recently split up with husband Tom Cruise, is due to appear on the Oprah TV talk show on Friday.

Glamour of a different kind was on show in Cannes on Wednesday when members of the porn film industry were honoured at the Hot d'Or Awards - their version of the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or.

Porn actresses had previously been thrown out of a hotel in the resort while promoting the event, with the manager telling them it was "not a brothel".

One director complained that those in the adult industry are "still despised" by those in the mainstream film business.

The film festival ends on Sunday (20 May).


Festival diary

Films in focus

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