On observing the lengthy procession of specially laid on cars ferrying the glitzy celebrities, socialites and dignitaries to the most-well-attended-to-date Starlite Festival Gala V on Saturday night at the Marbella Quarry… one could be forgiven for thinking that the Starlite Festival is simply another chic entertainment venue for high society to enjoy A-list performers from all over the world.
However that would be a heavily incorrect presumption as there is so much more to the concept and what this extraordinary music festival actually does behind the scenes when the hype and buzz have died down after the event.
This years Starlite Festival Gala V drew the attendance of over 40 high-profile celebrities from across the globe and set itself firmly in the position of one of Europe’s most important and significant social and cultural events. Those receiving awards included Agatha Ruiz de La Prada, La Gala Cruz Roja de Zurich, Enrique Ponce, Paco Arango, Sergio Scariollo, Pablo Ibañez (El Hombre de Negro) and La Baronesa Thyssen. The highlight of the Gala was the presentation of the Starlite Gala 2014 Honorary Award to the lovely Mia Farrow (renowned actress and ex-wife of Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen) for her incredible and usually very hands-on work as Ambassador for UNICEF… and the presentation of the 2014 Humanitarian Starlite Gala Award to Mexican business mogul, Carlos Slim, who is currently worth almost €80 billion and rated the World’s richest man.
Far from coming to bask in their fame and social status, these two incredible people were invited to be acknowledged and celebrated for the extensive fund and awareness-raising that they invest tirelessly into positively changing the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised victims or war, famine, disease etc. around the world. Their work allows voluntary agencies, organisations and foundations such as UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme to keep striving forward in the quest to provide better education, health care, protection, infrastructure to those who need it most.
Host for the evening, Antonio Banderas is well known for his ongoing charitable work, highlighting the needs of and assisting the disadvantaged and impoverished. As well as being an International Ambassador for UNICEF, he is passionate about giving support to his fellow Spaniards and collaborates with philanthropic foundations, academic and research institutions and civil society organisations to raise awareness and support for those most in need globally. Always holding his compatriots close to heart, he works passionately with UMA, Cudeca, Caritas, Mejores Amigos (Best Buddies), Niños en Alegria (Happy Children), Lagrimas y Favores (Tears and Favours), Malaga University, Marbella Food Bank and Intheos. Far from following many other ‘super stars’ down the road of being self-absorbed and pretentious, Antonio is instead an inspiring embodiment of visible humility, sincerity and passion. He displayed a down-to-earth and easy-to-approach air as he made his way patiently down the line of eagerly awaiting press, speaking in depth with them about his work and how the Starlite Festival provides a means of providing much needed funding to worthy causes.
As he signed the first-off-the-production-line, brand new Ford Mondeo 2014 models with Mia, (the lucky owners will inherit the signatures with their purchase) he said that the work he does for those in need is made significantly more possible and effective by the support of companies like Ford, who provide ongoing and substantial funding, without which, solutions and progress would be much more difficult to achieve.
During her speech to the crowd, Mia described Antonio as one of her “special, old friends” and joked about what a good kisser he was, adding with a wry grin that her heart always beat a little faster any time they met. Well, our hearts can beat a little faster for more reason than one next time we see him grace our screens…as well as talent and good looks, Malaga’s Golden Boy possesses a heart of gold too…