NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Wearing a floor-length pastel striped evening gown, Sandra Bullock walked the red carpet in New Orleans Thursday for a special premiere of her latest film, "The Blind Side."
Besides promoting the sports drama, which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, the event also served as a fundraiser for a New Orleans high school flooded by Hurricane Katrina.
Since the 2005 storm, Bullock has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Warren Easton High School, one of the city's oldest public schools, which took on 10 feet of water when the levee protection system broke during Katrina.
The donations have been used for renovations, scholarships, new band uniforms and a new health clinic.
"We're investing in a lot of things that we think need preserving," said Bullock, who recently bought a mansion in New Orleans' historic Garden District. "I'm a great supporter of New Orleans and its architecture."
Bullock signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans before taking her walk down the red carpet outside the Prytania Theater, one of Louisiana's only single-screen movie theaters and one of New Orleans' oldest. It opened in 1915.
Bullock hosted the invitation-only event with Warner Bros., the studio distributing the film. She said New Orleans was the perfect place to premiere "The Blind Side," which is based on a book written by city native Michael Lewis.
The book and film chronicle the real-life story of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, who, as a homeless and rudderless teen in Memphis, Tenn., was taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family and enrolled in private school. He went on to become an All-American at Ole Miss and a first-round selection of the Ravens in the 2009 draft.
"It's about people giving because they know it's the right thing to do," said Bullock, who plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a mother who "took in someone who was cold, a child who was cold ... gave him shelter and food and showed him love."
The real Leigh Anne Tuohy and other members of her family attended the premiere, along with Lewis, the film's writer-director John Lee Hancock, producer Gil Netter and actor Quinton Aaron, who debuts in the film as Oher.
Aaron said he felt a strong connection to the character.
"We were both the biggest kids in school but we were gentle souls. We just had big feet," said Aaron. "I wanted this project so bad. I still have butterflies."
Several members of the New Orleans Saints also showed up.
"It's a film about football and perseverance. I'm excited to be here," said quarterback Drew Brees, who was with his wife, Brittany.
Brees said he appreciates what Bullock has done to bring attention to the city and its ongoing recovery. "She has really adopted this town," he said.
"The Blind Side" also stars country star Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Lily Collins and Jae Head.