As Oscars weekend kicks into full swing, Hollywood plays home to a host of events honoring nominees and other industry luminaries. On Friday night, the 10th Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party celebrated some of the year’s most lauded women nominees, including Actress contenders Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, and Ruth Negga, along with documentary filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Kahane Cooperman, producers Dede Gardner, Jenno Topping, Donna Gigliotti, and many more.
Officially hosted by both WIF President Cathy Schulman and Oscar winner Brie Larson, the West Hollywood event was a busy, cheery event that focused firmly on the promise of the future, even in uncertain times. Also on hand were members of Reframe, a new activist organization formed to mobilize for gender equality in the film industry, including Schulman, Sundance’s Keri Putnam, Miramax’s Zanne Devine, directors Paul Feig and Kimberly Peirce, and Franklin Leonard.
In her welcome remarks, Larson looked firmly forward.
Last year’s Best Actress winner told the packed crowd at the plush Nightingale Plaza event space, “We will be here a year later, and let’s talk about how this was the moment, this was the moment when we went, ‘I got it. I know how to make the world a better place.’ Artists are the ones that the politicians fear. It’s always been the case.”
Larson also encouraged the crowd to really talk to each other — “let’s not talk like industry talk” — in order to build safe spaces to encourage and build each other up and “to make something amazing.”
The starry event was packed with other Oscar nominees and winners, along with plenty of Hollywood A-listers, including Paul Feig, Ezra Edelman, Jenny Slate, Viggo Mortensen and Keegan-Michael Key who, earlier in the day, spoke at the UTA #UnitedVoices rally in Beverly Hills.
Streep and DuVernay both also took to the stage — after some gentle prodding from Schulman — to offer up their own remarks.
Streep, apparently still reeling from reactions to her Golden Globes comments regarding President Donald Trump, was initially a little gunshy until an excited party-goer encouraged her with a hearty “oh, come on!” The beloved actress relented.
“I feel like never saying anything again,” she said with a laugh. “Because everybody is speaking up, and that’s great. With the numbers, they can’t ignore us, that’s all. We’re 51 — or maybe 52 now — percent of the population.”
She added, “Stuff can change. You have to really feel the earth move under your feet, and act.”
DuVernay reaffirmed the need for like-minded people to bond together in the face of great opposition.
“These kinds of gatherings become really important and become really powerful,” she said. “Our ancestors have taught us how to fight. We’re in a fight right now. Power in numbers, power in unity. I hope we can take the energy that’s in a room like this, that’s very celebratory, and extend it throughout the whole year, continue to hold hands and stand by each other.”