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Hollywood Speaks Out About Politics

Feb 26, 2017
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Hollywood has been speaking out this week about the current political climate. There were teach-ins and rallies at talent agencies, and events and awards shows have been peppered with political opposition. NPR's arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: One of Hollywood's most high-powered companies, talent agency CAA, kicked off Oscar weekend with a day of action. At CAA's sleek headquarters, actors, writers, directors and agents were invited to make T-shirts and posters, to phone and tweet elected officials. They also held a teach-in on a variety of issues. They heard from speakers, including Sarah McBride from the Human Rights Campaign.

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SARAH MCBRIDE: Transgender young people are feeling very alone right now. They're feeling scared.

DEL BARCO: Friday, another agency, UTA, ditched its annual Oscars party to instead host a political rally to support refugees and the ACLU. Among the speakers was actress Jodie Foster.

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JODIE FOSTER: It makes me so proud to see so many people engaging in the support for civil rights, in support of our traditions of fairness, freedom and empathy. And no matter where you're born and no matter who you voted for, red or blue, whether you're white, black or brown and all the colors of the identity rainbow, this is our time to resist.

DEL BARCO: Another UTA client, director Asghar Farhadi, will not attend the Academy Awards in protest of President Trump's travel restrictions. His fellow Oscar nominees in the best foreign language category signed a joint letter in support. And during the UTA rally, Farhadi delivered a video message from Tehran.

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ASGHAR FARHADI: I'm grateful to the solidarity offered by fellow filmmakers and the UTA family who have reacted responsibly to discrimination and injustice.

DEL BARCO: Yesterday at the beach in Santa Monica, the Independent Spirit Awards kicked off with host Nick Kroll and John Mulaney making digs at President Trump and at Hollywood liberals.

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NICK KROLL: And no, conservatives, we are not in a bubble. OK? We are in a tent filled with fringe artists on a California beach. If this room leaned any further to the left, we would literally topple into the Pacific Ocean.

DEL BARCO: Josh Welsh is the president of Film Independent, which presents the awards. He publicly thanked some of those who have been targets of President Trump, including the press and the NEA. But one of the only Spirit Award winners to give a pointed political message was "Manchester By The Sea" star Casey Affleck.

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CASEY AFFLECK: The policies of this administration are abhorrent, and they will not last. They won't...

DEL BARCO: Affleck wore a blue ribbon in support of the ACLU to pick up his best male lead award. The ceremony celebrates smaller budget independent films. And this year, winners included the documentary "OJ: Made In America," the horror film "The Witch," actress Isabelle Huppert from "Elle" and Ben Foster from "Hell Or High Water," also Molly Shannon for her work in the film "Other People."

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MOLLY SHANNON: I really, truly, in this moment, feel like a superstar.

(LAUGHTER)

DEL BARCO: But by far, the biggest winner yesterday was "Moonlight." The coming-of-age film picked up six awards, including best feature, best cinematography and best director for Barry Jenkins.

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BARRY JENKINS: To all y'all, man. I'm on the stage. But this thing - it has my name on it, but it's absolutely about all y'all. Much love.

(APPLAUSE)

DEL BARCO: The ensemble cast and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney joined Jenkins on stage for the Robert Altman Award. "Moonlight's" youngest actors, Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner, echoed their enthusiasm.

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ALEX HIBBERT: We love all of you.

JADEN PINER: We love you.

DEL BARCO: If the Spirit Awards was a preview, "Moonlight" is in for a lot of love tonight at the Oscars.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF NICHOLAS BRITELL'S "END CREDITS SUITE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.