Prince Albert of Monaco among the royalty, celebs expected for eco gala

Monaco’s Prince Albert is in Toronto for a fundraiser Wednesday night in support of his charitable foundation’s global environmental initiatives.

Hollywood celebrities including James Franco, Martin Short and Mischa Barton will also attend the first annual AMBI Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel, held on the eve of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Proceeds of the gala, established by Lady Monika Bacardi and of AMBI Pictures, will go to the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. It has supported over 340 projects to date, with a total investment of more than US$33.6-million.

“Cinema is not just about glamour,” said Bacardi, a Monaco entrepreneur and philanthropist, and a member of the foundation. “Cinema can contribute to and help the world, and bring attention to things, and in this case, the issue of environment, because we all live in a world of pollution.”

Prince Albert is the event’s honoured guest. Diana Ross will also perform.

Created in 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is dedicated to initiatives in three main fields – climate change, biodiversity and sustainable management of water resources. All proceeds go to both public and private projects.

Funds raised by the AMBI Gala will also aid ’s Students on Ice Foundation (SOI) and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Oceans North campaign.

SOI offers youth expeditions to the polar regions, giving students the opportunity to participate in hands-on learning that emphasizes environmental importance in the Arctic and Antarctic zones. Funds raised by the 2015 AMBI Gala will help provide expedition scholarships.

Oceans North Canada aims to help Nunavut indigenous communities safeguard Lancaster Sound, which is surrounded by mountains and barrier islands. Funds from the gala will help continue the work in establishing the Arctic’s first network of marine protected areas in Canada.

“Every year, we plan on doing a new AMBI gala,” said Iervolino, who is a partner in AMBI Pictures. “This year we’re investing in the environment and also producing a big animated movie about the environment.”

The movie, Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad, is an animated 3D family feature starring the voices of Alec Baldwin, John Cleese, Anjelica Huston and Franco. It is scheduled for release in 2018.

AMBI Pictures began producing English-language movies in 2013. This year, AMBI hopes to produce 12 features in total.

With TIFF scheduled to begin Thursday, Iervolino, who also maintains a residence in the city, hopes the 2015 AMBI Gala can benefit from the attention given to the world-renowned festival.

“In any case, I think if you work in the cinema, you have a big responsibility because with your work, you can really say something,” said Iervolino. “Of course, this can’t be applied to every movie, but when we can do it, then we have to.”

About Robert Liwanag, Special to National Post