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Hollywood Turns Out for Seals at Sundance

Josh Madden reports from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival

The Humane Society of the United States

by Josh Madden

Editor's note: On January 18, during the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the ProtectSeals campaign hosted a dinner at the Bon Appétit Supper Club featuring a vegan meal created by executive chef (and first female Iron Chef) Cat Cora.

At the dinner the ProtectSeals team shared Nigel Barker's documentary, A Sealed Fate? (filmed at the 2008 Canadian seal hunt) and presented an award to Paris Hilton for her work to promote the campaign. Music for the evening was provided by DJ and guest reporter, Josh Madden.

The Main Street of Park City, Utah, buzzed with Sundance attendees, like a snowy version of Mardi Gras, and a lighthearted feeling of charity and unification was in the air at the Bon Appétit Supper Club.

A handsome crowd filled the space for an evening focused on something other than movies.

The event, hosted by the Bon Appétit Executive Chef Cat Cora and sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States, instead focused on the treatment of our Earth, its animals, and more directly the inhumane act of hunting baby seals in Canada.

Chef Cora announced that she has joined The HSUS-led boycott of Canadian seafood, until the country stops its annual seal hunt.

The dinner began with a welcome by The HSUS's Senior Vice President for Wildlife, Dr. John Grandy, and Nigel Barker.

Barker, a well known photographer and television personality,shared his life-long vision quest: to preserve the lives of marine animals.

He referred to his stunning seal photographs, displayed around the room, as he shared his experiences photographing seals—also chronicled in the documentary, A Sealed Fate?

The guests assembled around the tables. They were a wide assortment of thespians, socialites, rockers, and various entertainers who had all come out to lend a voice to creatures who otherwise wouldn't be heard.

Warmly, the guests—names such as Slash, Paris Hilton, Alan Cumming, Red Hot Chili Pepper's Anthony Kiedis, Danny Masterson, and actress Alexia Fast—mingled over their dinners of roasted winter squash, saffron soup, and herbed risotto spiked with chanterelle mushrooms.

Zoe Kravitz, Adrienne Bailon, and Canadian actress Emily VanCamp were all present and all smiles.

As the dinner came to a close with a rich chocolate ganache tartlet, musician Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and actor Matthew Lillard arrived. Lillard, who exclaimed "I'm here for the seals!" was late but excited nonetheless to be part of The HSUS's efforts.

Guests shared a few cocktails, admired Nigel's photographs, and danced before the evening's end. Then they carried stuffed plush baby seals into the streets of Park City, a reminder of life and those we hope to protect.

Josh Madden is a DJ; stylist for bands such as Good Charlotte, Metro Station, The MisShapes, and White Tie Affair as well as the KANGOL and Ben Sherman clothing lines; and a writer for nylon.com, evilmonito.com, and fashion companies such as House of Cassette. He has been in magazines such as PEOPLE, NYLON, TIME OUT, and SPIN.

"An avid animal lover and French Bulldog fan, I can't ever imagine hurting a defenseless being," Madden said. "I have been a pescetarian for 7 years now but have no interest in preaching to anyone, only offering the prospect of options.

As humans in this world, we have options, and I opt to try to bring good to my fellow man and the animals of this earth. This planet is not mine; I am blessed to be here and I respect it and its inhabitants. I'm grateful to be included in all noble causes and plan to be whenever I am invited."

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