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Cannes guests bid up to $255,656 at Haiti auction

Associated Press Modified: May 19, 2012 at 8:30 am •  Published: May 19, 2012

CANNES, France (AP) — Guests at Cannes have bid up to €200,000 ($255,656) at a Haiti fundraiser for items including a Bono-autographed guitar as the film festival's glitzy, global spotlight turned to charity.

It was the first time the French Riviera festival has attracted attention for a cause not connected with a movie.

Actor Sean Penn, director Paul Haggis and model Petra Nemcova brought their individual charities together for a black-tie dinner Friday evening to benefit their organizations and renew attention to the Caribbean country. Designer Giorgio Armani co-hosted the gala.

Penn earlier in the day tried to turn the conversation to Haiti, hosting a fundraiser for the earthquake-ravaged and poverty-stricken country.

"A film festival is not simply about films, ever," Penn said. "This isn't a film, what we're doing now. It's not a film when we stand outside and we take pictures for magazines. What it all has to do with is an expression and a shared experience."

Penn, a Cannes veteran of numerous films— including last year's Palme d'Or winner, "The Tree of Life," posed for photographers ahead of a press conference, and appeared ill at ease with the celebrity-fawning that often comes along with the festival.

He compared the importance of raising money for Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2010, to finding money for serious films.

"Do we stand by and wait for the studio to release the funds to make a great film or do we jump start that and show how those things can work and cut through it with fundraisers like we're going to do now?" asked the actor.

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