05/22/2009 at 07:00 AM EDT
The Cannes Film Festival took a serious turn Thursday night, when Sharon Stone honored the memory of her friend Natasha Richardson at amfAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS event.
Stone, 51, hosted the annual charity event, held at the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc on the Cap D'Antibes. The star, who was introduced on stage by studio head Harvey Weinstein, grew teary as she spoke of her friend and co-amfAR worker Richardson, who died in March
after a head injury from a skiing accident.
"This year we lost an angel from our amfAR family. It was one of those random events that leaves you in a state of shock and profound grief. In March the funny, graceful Natasha Richardson was taken from us," said Stone.
Wiping her eyes, she whispered into the microphone: "People say, 'Oh, she can't really have been that great or graceful.' She was. 'That funny, charming, sweet and elegant.' She was. She left behind her husband and two stunningly beautiful children and an unfinished mission to help us find a cure AIDS."
After a short film chronicling Richardson's tireless campaigning for the charity, Stone read a note from Richardson's husband, Liam Neeson, urging everyone to continue with their great work. Stone also pledged $50,000 of her own money to honor Richardson.
Completing the emotional tribute, Annie Lennox performed "Talking To An Angel," then said, "That was for Natasha."