amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, returned to the Venice Film Festival to host a benefit dinner at the Arsenale last night. The event was presented by Campari with the Red Sea International Film Festival as the signature sponsor and the San Clemente Palace Kempinski as the hotel partner.

The exclusive evening included a socially distanced cocktail reception and dinner at water’s edge in the Arsenale. After dinner, wine courtesy by Boroli, guests were transported by gondola to enjoy the program from a floating stage on the Venetian lagoon. The program featured a musical performance by Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Nicole Scherzinger.

Guests in attendance included Cynthia Erivo, Emile Hirsch, Dylan Penn, Ferzan Ozpetek, Jeremy Piven, Julian Lennon, Andres Velencoso, Sveva Alviti, Sarah Gadon, Sara Battaglia, Alexander Nanau, Adrienne Lau, Frida Aasen, Lara Leito, Leonie Hanne, Maia Mitchell, Mohammed Al Turki, Nina Senicar, Olivia Culpo, Rakan Abdulwahid, Carlo Capasa, Stefania Rocca, Simone Haggiag, Sofia Resing, Thom Evans, Umberta Gnutti Beretta, Valery Kaufman, amfAR Trustee Jay Ellis, amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost and more.

Jay Ellis and Nina Senicar opened the evening with remarks about the vital need for a cure for HIV, as the virus continues to infect thousands of people worldwide. amfAR CEO, Kevin Robert Frost, also took the stage to speak about the great strides made in AIDS research since the last amfAR Venice event nearly 20 years ago, and highlighted the importance of continuing to support amfAR’s work.  Frost also spoke of amfAR’s decision to expand its work in early 2020 to support scientists racing to find a way to treat COVID-19 and to further understand its effects on people living with HIV.

The evening continued with a live auction that included a variety of artworks and one-of-a kind luxury items and experiences, many of which were introduced by celebrities in the room.  Highlights of the auction included a vintage Campari poster by artist Carlo Fisanotti, a magical stay at San Clemente Palace, and Mick Jagger’s jacket from the Rolling Stones’ Coachella 2016 performance.

The amfAR Venice event was an intimate affair with a limited number of guests, and adhered to all health guidelines and protocols in relation to COVID-19. As a world leader in infectious disease research, amfAR has temporarily expanded its efforts to include research on COVID-19. While there has been incredible progress on vaccine development, urgent work remains to be done to develop safe and effective treatments and to answer critical questions about the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. amfAR continues to fund research in these critical areas.