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Entertainment behind the scenes

Sarah McLachlan, Sarah Ferguson lend voices to AIDS benefit at TIFF

September 16, 2009

amfar(Reporting and writing by Jennifer Kwan)

There’s something about Sarahs.

Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan used her star power to help draw more than 350 people to a charity event on Tuesday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, crooning her songs Adia, World on Fire and Angel.

And Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, teased from the crowd an astounding C$150,000 bid for a one-week, group ski trip at a fancy private chalet, complete with lessons from ski pro Manu Gaidet.

“C$45,000, or, were you scratching your nose,” said the auctioneer, seconds after announcing the starting bid of C$40,000. Then there was a pause and the whispers grew louder.

The next and winning bid? A whopping C$150,000, but with strings attached: the Duchess has to come along.

Ferguson promised to go, but he bought the package regardless of whether she’ll show up, amfAR said.

amfar1The lavish affair at the Carlu was the first Cinema Against AIDS Toronto event, which brought together amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and Dignitas International, a medical humanitarian group.

Participants of the ritzy event, many in glamorous gowns and crisp suits, were offered a sumptuous dinner prepared by Chef Jamie Kennedy. Celebrities in attendance included Michelle Yeoh, amfAR ambassador, filmmaker Terry Gilliam, actress Miranda Richardson and singer/actress Eve.

Items up for sale at the live auction ranged from a tennis lesson with Jelena Jankovic, which fetched C$5,500, and a painting by Vivian Reiss titled “Young Bette Davis,” which garnered a winning bid of C$12,000. The event raised more than C$700,000, organizers said.

“We need to make the awareness constant and not let it sit on the backburner,” Yeoh said.

For a brief video of the event, click below.

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