Elton John performed a set of five songs, Billie Eilish made his first red carpet appearance with new boyfriend Jesse Rutherford, and director Park Chan-wook and artist Helen Pashgian were honored at LACMA’s 11e annual Art + Film Gala on Saturday evening.
Park — considered one of the top contenders for an Oscar nomination for best director for his new movie Decide to leave, which is South Korea’s entry for Best International Feature Film, drew a hearty laugh from the crowd when he received his honor. His speech played out what are the accepted standards for touting one’s achievements in Korea versus the United States.
“I initially wanted to be with these words: ‘I don’t know how to thank you for such a prize that is beyond me.’ But I remembered the advice of a friend who is familiar with both Korean and American culture. She told me not to be too humble in America… So I’ll take that advice and instead say the following words: ‘I’m not at all surprised at the prize I clearly deserve,'” said Park, who noted that he is celebrating his 30th anniversary as a feature film director.
Park was introduced by squid game actor Lee Byung-hun who starred in the director’s 2000 film Joint safety zone, a career breakthrough for both men after they each had a number of flops. (Lee had rejected one of Park’s bombs.)
“Both director Park and I have experienced disastrous failures side by side on our separate paths. It was absolutely miserable,” Lee said. “At the time, we were both depressed and thought either director Park or I could make another movie. One day, director Park offered me another part. A failed director and the failed actor come together to create a new project – what a perfect idea.”
When they finally connected at Joint Security Area, the film, Lee recalled, broke box office records for Korean movies [and] changed the history of Korean cinema.” Both Lee and LACMA CEO and President Michael Govan have learned of the recent horrific Halloween tragedy in Seoul, South Korea, which left more than 150 people dead. “Please join me in keeping all the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers,” Lee said.
The evening, chaired by LACMA Administrator Eva Chow and Leonardo DiCaprio (who was absent for the first time in the event’s 11-year history), raised more than $5 million for the museum’s overall mission and for his program that puts film in the spotlight. LACMA’s Art + Film gala not only honors a film director every year, but also a visual artist. This year’s honorary title, Helen Pashgian, is known as a pioneering member of the California Light and Space art movement of the 1960s. Pashgian accepted her honor with a poetic speech about the role Southern California’s special light plays in both film and visual arts.
“If you were to talk to a filmmaker today, he or she could tell you that the light is both fascinating and irritating. Irritating [because] just like you got the perfect shot, it floats away. If you talk to a visual artist, they can tell you that the flight is flat, that it is cool, that the shadows fade. If you were to travel to Caltech and talk to their atmospheric scientists, they would probably tell you that the light photons mix with the dust particles in the air to create what they call a scattering of light and that this scattering phenomenon is unique to this region. … I would like to think that this strange light of ours ultimately remains what it has always been: elusive mysterious unknowable, and therein lies its magic.”
The evening kicked off with red carpet arrivals where Eilish and Rutherford, lead singer of the band The Neighbourhood, arrived in matching pyjamas and a wraparound blanket for two, all by Gucci, the longtime sponsor of the Art + Film Gala. Rutherford and Eilish, who also wore Gucci sleep masks, held hands all night.
During the cocktail portion of the evening, DJ D-Nice played tunes in a courtyard adjacent to the resurrection of LACMA’s new Peter Zumthor-designed David Geffen Galleries. Fifty percent complete, its outline could be seen up close, with a few cranes towering over the gathered guests.
Among those dressed in Gucci were Elliot Page (who roamed the party with comedian Mae Martin), Olivia Wilde (in a chevron-designed sequined dress paired with bright red evening gloves), Janelle Monae, Lindsay Vonn, Salma Hayek and husband Francois-Henri Pinault (the chairman and CEO of Gucci owner Kering), Jodie Turner-Smith, Julia Garner, Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Carey Mulligan and Henry Golding.
Quinta Brunson, in a black-and-blue taffeta dress, was carrying a beer-can beaded bag. “This is my beer can. For the Phillies,” the Philadelphia native said to a fellow guest. Jared Leto, dressed in a crystal-studded Gucci velvet tuxedo, snapped a few shots of Sydney Sweeney, wearing a pink Giambattista Valli dress full of romantic rose detailing. Andrew Garfield wandered around with gallery owner Vito Schnabel.
Other celebrities spotted in the crowd included Heidi Klum, Sebastian Stan, Addison Rae (who had the most cleavage of the night), Diego Calva, Jude Law, Kathryn Hahn, Elizabeth Banks, Kendall Jenner, models Alessandra Ambrosio and Halima Aden, Blackpink’s Rosé, Sean Penn, Sandra Oh and Paris Hilton with husband Carter Reum. Last summer Hilton donated LACMA an acquisition fund to acquire digital artworks from female artists.
In a specially designed pavilion, guests dined on a menu created by Gucci Osteria in collaboration with Joachim Splichal, which features beef tortellini in a parmigiano reggiano sauce. At a long table, Kim Kardashian was deep in conversation with Bob Iger. Later, Kardashian and her sister Kendall Jenner posed for photos with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele.
The art and museum worlds included artists Henry Taylor, Catherine Opie, Charles Gaines, Lauren Halsey, Calida Rawles, and Rashad Newsome, along with Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Director and CEO Sandra Jackson-Dumont and Academy Museum Director and President Jacqueline Stewart.
At the end of the dinner – which was also supported by Audi – Idris Elba invited the guests back out for dessert and enjoy a special performance by Elton John, who, playing a large red piano, hits sang like your song, Rocket Man and Don’t let the sun go down on mewhich he dedicated to party guest Taron Egerton, who played him in 2019 Rocketman.
Spotted in the crowd were directors Chloé Zhao, Rian Johnson and Damien Chazelle; Rick and Kathy Hilton; new head of marketing at Amazon Studios Sue Kroll; designer Peter Dundas and husband Evangelo Bousis; Christie’s Vice-Chairman Sonya Roth; Colleen Bell, head of the California Film Commission and husband Bradley Bell; Michael Ovitz and Tamara Mellon; Wendy Stark Morrissey; Linda May of Hilton & Hyland; architect Kulapat Yantrasast; jewelry designer Loree Rodkin; and LACMA co-chairs Elaine Wynn and Tony Ressler.
After the performance, the crowd flocked to the valet parking on Wilshire Boulevard, where a crowd of fans chanted Eilish’s name in an attempt to get her attention. The singer and Rutherford were standing next to a large black SUV in which her brother Finneas, with friend Claudia Sulewski, was sitting. It seemed Eilish and Rutherford were on their heels, waiting for their own transport to arrive. Finally, as the chants of “We love you Billie” fans mounted, Eilish stood on the runner of the SUV and shouted back, “I love you, too.” A few minutes later, a sprinter van showed up and dragged the couple into the evening. (Many guests were heading to an after party at Co-Chairman Chow’s Holmby Hills mansion.)
In a fitting cap on the evening and the theme of bringing the film and art worlds together, actor Simu Liu left the party by walking through Chris Burden’s large-scale streetlight sculpture. urban light while a friend took pictures of him.