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From Cooper to Spielberg, Stars Turn Out for AFI Awards

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — From Bradley Cooper to Steven Spielberg, some of Hollywood’s brightest stars came together to relax and sip wine in a fancy ballroom where everyone ended up walking away a winner at the American Film Institute Awards on Friday.

The annual AFI invite-only luncheon honored 10 films and 10 television shows with well-spoken words about the celebrated project followed by a brief clip of a scene. “Squid Game,” “Belfast” and “Summer of Soul (…or: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’)” received special awards during the event.

Laughs and hugs were shared before the event between “tick, tick… BOOM!” star Andrew Garfield and Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon from “Squid Game.” Cooper and “Licorice Pizza” actor Cooper Hoffman had a chat before both posed for photos. “WandaVision” star Kathryn Hahn went out of her way to meet the “Squid Game” cast at their table in a ballroom in Beverly Hills, California.

“West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose had a jovial conversation with Spielberg on the red carpet. Garfield was signing with “CODA” star Marlee Matlin after the event.

The AFI event is all about having fun, creating a laid-back vibe with no pressure.

“If you’ve been with us before, you know the game. The game is: There is no game,” AFI President Bob Gazzale said as many in the audience chuckled. “You have won. Most importantly today, you all won.”

Films recognized include “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog,” “tick, tick…BOOM!” “The Tragedy of MacBeth” and “West Side Story.”

Television shows honored were “Hacks,” “Maid,” “Mare of Easttown,” “Reservation Dogs,” “Schmigadoon!” “Succession,” “Ted Lasso,” “The Underground Railroad,” “WandaVision” and “The White Lotus.”

Those in the star-studded room also included Meryl Streep, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Guillermo del Toro, Keegan-Michael Key and Rita Moreno.

Morgan Freeman closed the luncheon with a benediction to celebrate the honorees, including the late actor Sidney Poitier, who died at the age of 94 early this year.

“Someone had to kick down the door,” Freeman said of Poitier, the groundbreaking actor who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen. “In baseball, it was Jackie Robinson. In politics, Barack Obama. For us, it was Sidney Poitier. No Sidney, no Halle Berry. No Sidney, no Viola Davis. No Sidney, no Denzel. Hell, no Sidney, no me.”

Freeman said Poitier was “my compass showing me the way, my one bright light who illuminated the path for me to walk upon.”

“Even though Sidney is no longer with us, his light will never dim,” he continued. “No matter where you are from or who you are, he was, is and always will be an inspiration.”

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