Wearing tuxes at luxurious parties; hobnobbing with celebrities like Bill Clinton, Prince Albert of Monaco and Alec Baldwin; and catching film screenings: It’s all in a week’s work for Houston lawyer Tom Ajamie, an independent film buff who attended this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France, which ran from May 16 to 27.
Enjoying the glitz and glamour of the world-renowned film festival is one benefit of Ajamie’s devotion to independent film: He says for 12 years he’s annually given $15,000 or more to the Sundance Institute, which produces the yearly Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
“I am very connected in the world of independent film,” explains Ajamie, managing partner of Ajamie LLP in Houston.
He says he loves films that examine difficult issues, make people think and stir controversy. For example, he recalls documentaries from Sundance that addressed nuclear power, rape in the military and corporations that dodge taxes.
“Media is a very powerful force in affecting opinions and hopefully affecting positive change,” says Ajamie, explaining why he financially supports independent filmmakers.
Although it was his first time at the Cannes Film Festival, it probably won’t be his last. Ajamie says his friend Vincent Roberti, a lobbyist and the owner of Palisades Pictures, invited him to Cannes to attend a charity event by amfAR, a Hollywood nonprofit dedicated to advancing AIDS research. Ajamie stayed in the private villa of a partner in his New York office, sometimes partying until 4 a.m. at black-tie events, dinner parties, film screenings and more.
“I’ve traveled the world. Name a country, and I’ve been. This is just one of the most beautiful places,” Ajamie says about Cannes.
-- Angela Morris