MORGAN FREEMAN PAYS TRIBUTE TO CICELY TYSON IN AFI AWARDS BENEDICTION
The 21-Day Salute To AFI AWARD Honorees Includes Uzo Aduba, Gillian Anderson, Jon Favreau, Tina Fey, Ethan Hawke, Daniel Kaluuya, Regina King, Spike Lee, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bob Odenkirk, Gary Oldman, Aaron Sorkin, Jason Sudeikis, Anya Taylor-Joy, George C. Wolfe, Chloé Zhao And More
21 AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship Recipients Named
Audi Announces Third Audi Fellowship For Women At The AFI Conservatory
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, February 26, 2021 – The American Film Institute (AFI) wrapped its celebration of AFI AWARDS 2020 with a virtual benediction delivered by AFI Life Achievement Award honoree Morgan Freeman, which premiered on AFI’s YouTube channel and AFI.com/MovieClub. Addressing the global AFI Movie Club audience, Freeman honored Cicely Tyson, who helped shape AFI in its early years as a member of the AFI Board of Trustees and was a trailblazer in the AFI Directing Workshop for Women. “Tradition is that each AFI AWARDS luncheon ends as one person raises a glass to artistry, excellence and to inspiration, and today, it is my honor to raise a glass to the artistry, excellence and inspiration of Cicely Tyson,” said Freeman.
Leading up to today’s benediction, AFI’s global Movie Club program showcased the official AFI AWARDS selections beginning on February 5 and released new and exclusive content daily featuring special guests introducing the titles and AFI “Behind the Scene” conversations with filmmakers and actors.
Filmmakers and actors participating in the AFI AWARDS 2020 21-day celebration included Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Uzo Aduba, Riz Ahmed, Gillian Anderson, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Anna Boden, Lee Isaac Chung, Emma Corrin, Pete Docter, Colman Domingo, Phoebe Dynevor, Jon Favreau, Tina Fey, Ryan Fleck, Scott Frank, Vince Gilligan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Eli Goree, Peter Gould, Misha Green, Shira Haas, Ethan Hawke, Aldis Hodge, Brendan Hunt, Joshua Caleb Johnson, Daniel Kaluuya, Alan S. Kim, Regina King, Shaka King, Bill Lawrence, Spike Lee, Delroy Lindo, Darius Marder, Erik Messerschmidt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bob Odenkirk, Leslie Odom Jr., Gary Oldman, Pedro Pascal, Jurnee Smollett, Aaron Sorkin, Peter Spears, Jason Sudeikis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Van Dusen, Dahvi Waller, Anna Winger, George C. Wolfe and Chloé Zhao.
The AFI AWARDS celebration was sponsored by Audi, a supporter of AFI programs for the past 17 years. To commemorate each of the AFI AWARDS recipients, Audi created the AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarships initiative providing scholarships in the name of the honorees to women and BIPOC Fellows at the AFI Conservatory – for a total contribution of $250,000. See full list of scholarship recipients below.
Audi also announced a commitment to fund a third consecutive Audi Fellowship for Women. The Audi Fellowship for Women supports one female director for her two-year AFI Conservatory enrollment. The first Audi Fellow, Natalie Camou, graduated in June 2019, with the second Fellow, Nicole Mejia, beginning her AFI training in Fall 2019. The 2021 recipient will be announced in the Spring.
View AFI AWARDS Benediction Speech
View Daily Title Introductions and “Behind the Scene” Videos on AFI’s YouTube Channel
Celebrating film and television arts’ collaborative nature, AFI AWARDS is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. All of the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form and make a mark on American society. When placed in an historical context, these stories provide a complex and rich visual record of our modern world.
AFI AWARDS 2020 Official Rationales – MOVIES
DA 5 BLOODS honors the eternal bond of friendship amidst the ongoing battle to comprehend the horrors of the Vietnam War. Spike Lee’s mastery of the explosive reaches new emotional heights in this time-embracing narrative – as he elevates the art form to meet his undeniably epic ambition. The enduring trauma of war and peace is embodied by Delroy Lindo, whose powerfully fractured performance anchors the fearless ensemble’s journey toward forgiveness – while Chadwick Boseman’s spirit looms large as a haunting portrayal of heroism.
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH raises a fist for change. Capturing the revolutionary fervor of the 1960s that echoes into our modern moment, Shaka King’s timely tragedy burns with righteous rage and Shakespearean turns on power and betrayal. Towering performances by Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O’Neal drive the collision of unending horror and the ever too elusive hope that “Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our own destiny.”
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM is at once a soaring tribute to owning your voice and a searing step back in time to expose the challenges of driving change in America. This symphony of genius begins with the musical words of August Wilson and is expanded from stage to screen by the incomparable George C. Wolfe, whose eye for detail and the many shades of humanity create an opus as explosive as it is entertaining. As the “Mother of the Blues,” Viola Davis etches her name in granite as a true national treasure, and this film stands apart as a must-feel experience to know the power and poetry of Chadwick Boseman.
MANK opens the doors to Xanadu for all who love the movies. A true work of art from all angles, this majestic look back at the making of CITIZEN KANE challenges black and white assumptions about art and authorship, creativity and collaboration. David Fincher is today’s titan who takes on this telling of titans past – Orson Welles, William Randolph Hearst and a deep focus on Gary Oldman’s monumental turn as Herman J. Mankiewicz. This glamorous, glorious trip back in time to Hollywood past is pure movie magic about movie magic.
MINARI blossoms with hope in the beating heart of America. Lee Isaac Chung’s deeply personal saga is an ode to the unrelenting pressure of the pioneer spirit. Universal questions about home, pride and identity drive the narrative to touch both hearts and minds, as the Yi family dreams for more in a field of uncertainty. Steven Yeun and Yeri Han’s epically understated performances infuse the film with unfeigned emotion, and Yuh-Jung Youn is an inspiration who embodies the wry blessings and curses of generational wisdom.
NOMADLAND looks to the horizon of an unseen America. Chloé Zhao’s richly rendered portrait of one woman’s life journey is a meditation on transience – exploring the natural need to be a neighbor alongside the freedom of isolation offered by the sweeping majesty of nature. The story’s soul is embodied by the incomparable Frances McDormand, whose uncompromising turn as a woman on the fringe allows us to consider ourselves boldly alone because we know we’ll see each other down the road again.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… is a knockout. This powerfully imagined gathering of giants – Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown – announces the arrival of Regina King as a singular voice behind the camera. A meticulously choreographed dreamscape that leaps from the words of writer Kemp Powers, the film asks, “What if…” and then confronts the complicated legacy of race in America with searing insights ignited by a war of words, the bonds of brotherhood and the hope that change is gonna come.
SOUL is a modern movie miracle. This ambitiously imaginative burst of life finds the spark of spirituality in American cinema – and delivers it to audiences of all ages in equal parts entertainment and enlightenment. Pete Docter and his talented team at Pixar tackle issues of the highest plane – death, regret, acceptance – and place their answers in the talented voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey. The alchemy that results invites audiences to look to the future without fear – and to find the joy in their soul.
SOUND OF METAL is a thundering achievement of both artistry and empathy. Darius Marder’s immersive masterwork finds new ways to make audiences feel – truly feel – in a story of endless awakenings. The film’s monumental feat in sound design is fully powered by Riz Ahmed’s bold and bravura performance as a man driven to connect, humbled by loss and, ultimately, inspired to embrace the gifts given him – and to all of us – each day.
THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 slams the gavel down with authority to remind that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Aaron Sorkin’s passionate look back at the 1968 Democratic National Convention brilliantly weaves a complex narrative founded in protests, politics and posturing into an essential tale for our times. His soaring words and deft direction are super-charged by an all-star ensemble, and the result is an exhilarating, thrill-ride through the halls of American history.
AFI AWARDS 2020 Official Rationales – TV PROGRAMS
BETTER CALL SAUL continues its monumental crawl through the desert of moral ambiguity as its soul breaks from bad to worse. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould expand the shameless indignities of personal ambition with every weapon in their narrative arsenal as Bob Odenkirk’s pitifully hilarious opportunist finds an equally righteous void in the masterful turn of Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler. Together, they worm their way through an imagined American dream.
BRIDGERTON reveals itself a deliciously delightful period piece, gloriously free from the bodice of convention. Created by Chris Van Dusen and boasting the proud stamp of genius from producer Shonda Rhimes, this sumptuous, sexy trip back in time also looks to the future with an exquisitely diverse court of players – best illustrated by the electric arrival of Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor, with devilish narration by the divine Julie Andrews.
THE CROWN carries on its radiant sparkle through the power of brilliant storytelling. As the sun now threatens to set on the British Empire, Peter Morgan’s addictively epic narrative ascends to an even higher throne – with Olivia Colman’s royal embodiment of Queen Elizabeth II evoking both power and pity as she stands in conflict with equally powerful women, including Gillian Anderson’s transformative take on Margaret Thatcher and the incandescent addition of Emma Corrin as Princess Diana.
THE GOOD LORD BIRD ignites a powder keg of history with issues of identity that mark our modern day. Ethan Hawke and Mark Richard’s richly reimagined tale of abolitionist John Brown is an eccentric epic driven by Joshua Caleb Johnson’s performance as a young, freed slave swept up in Brown’s crusade. Hawke’s gloriously unhinged portrayal of Brown plays the perfect counterpart as together they march toward an inevitable destiny and scars that have yet to heal today.
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY drives a wooden stake through the injustices of America’s past. Misha Green’s stylish serial pulses with the power of reclamation as it charts a distorted journey through the Jim Crow South reimagined through the haunting lens of horror. Heroism is embodied by Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors, who stare down terrors from the past and beyond – and, ultimately, confront the harsh reality that, of all things that go bump in the night, nothing remains more monstrous than man.
THE MANDALORIAN shows us the way. Jon Favreau and his visionary collaborators prove the power of STAR WARS to thrive beyond the Skywalker saga. Set far, far away from the central battle between good and evil, this intoxicating adventure expands the galaxy with heroic purpose and a genre-busting narrative all its own. In these dark times, “Baby Yoda” and this larger found family of icons glow with a warm, laser-like light to prove that the Force will be with us – always.
MRS. AMERICA tears the tiara from the American image that women are born with equal rights and equal agendas. In this ambitiously insightful study of the gender warfare surrounding the creation of the Equal Rights Amendment, Dahvi Waller’s liberating narrative presents the past as a look to the battles still raging today. Cate Blanchett plays against radiant type as she manifests the rigid body and beliefs of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly who defies a sisterhood bound most powerfully by the performances of Uzo Aduba, Rose Byrne, Tracey Ullman and Margo Martindale.
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT soars above the notion that chess is for the few by capturing the attention of the world in heart-pounding, thought-provoking entertainment. Scott Frank’s exquisitely stylish period piece embodies the rousing drama of a sports story with all the white-knuckle chills of a psychological thriller. Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance is that of a Grandmaster – from her heart to her head to her hands – charting an addictive arc from abandonment to ambition, from the spark of mentorship to the embrace of genius and, ultimately, the triumph of “checkmate.”
TED LASSO scores big as a tonic for our times. The talented creative team of Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly makes the extra pass to turn the pure positivity of an unlikely sports story to hilariously feel-great television. Sudeikis’ uniquely lovable, deceptively unsophisticated “football” coach inspires audiences to BELIEVE while bringing them to their feet with a smile.
UNORTHODOX smashes convention in a thrilling journey of discovery. “Mazel tov!” to Anna Winger and Alexa Karolinski, whose inspired series finds its core in a collision of ideologies rarely explored on screen. Shira Haas’ heart-breaking, hard-driving performance as Esty Shapiro brilliantly embodies the intoxicating freedom and suffocating oppression on the path to self.
AFI AWARDS 2020 Official Rationale – AFI SPECIAL AWARD
HAMILTON transcends the definition of movies and television to rise up to the highest of art. This work of dazzling brilliance now exists for the ages – standing as a monument to America’s founding fathers and an anthem to the power of art to tell our stories. In a year when many were isolated at home, this lavishly cinematic staging of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical masterpiece invited the world to take a front row seat in the “room where it happens” and experience the multi-layered genius of this cultural juggernaut.
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship Recipients – MOVIES
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree DA 5 BLOODS
Davis Northern, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH
Haley Beasley, Producing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM
Rediet Yared, Screenwriting Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree MANK
Morgen Whiteman, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree MINARI
Ellin L. Aldana, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree NOMADLAND
Liz Charky, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…
Andrea Camacho-Tiznado, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree SOUL
Bailey Salwey, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree SOUND OF METAL
Anna Lo Westlin, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7
Rachel Pontbriand, Screenwriting Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship Recipients – TV PROGRAMS
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree BETTER CALL SAUL
Iesha Daboya, Screenwriting Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree BRIDGERTON
Georgina Gutierrez, Production Design Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree THE CROWN
Abbie Vance, Production Design Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree THE GOOD LORD BIRD
Naomi Christie Trantu, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree LOVECRAFT COUNTRY
Rayana Rasamee, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree THE MANDALORIAN
Augusto Garcia, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree MRS. AMERICA
Praveen Elankumaran, Cinematography Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT
Elizabeth T. Vazquez, Screenwriting Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree TED LASSO
Joseph Alan Gonzales, Producing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree UNORTHODOX
Prem Santana, Directing Fellow
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship Recipient – AFI Special Award
AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarship in the name of AFI AWARDS Honoree HAMILTON
Dahlia Hamdan, Producing Fellow
About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.
About Audi of America
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands, delivering about 1.845 million vehicles globally in 2019. In the U.S., Audi of America sold just over 224,000 vehicles in 2019 and launched the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron – one of four fully electric models coming to the U.S. market in the next two years. Globally, the brand aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050. Visit audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.
American Film Institute: Shari Mesulam, 310.663.0056, [email protected]