Stars who put the world to rights

The 70th EE British Academy Film Awards was a night celebrating the best in the film industry, but also served as another platform for stars to air their political views.

The ceremony’s host Stephen Fry kicked off the evening with several remarks about US president Donald Trump and Russia, paving the way for others who used their acceptance speeches to touch upon Brexit and Trump.

Stephen, referencing Mr Trump, who recently described Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep as “overrated”, said: “I look at row after row of the most overrated people in the audience.”

He also joked that the awards were chosen by “the Russians”.

Here are some of the political mentions from the Baftas.

Director Ken Loach, on picking up the outstanding British film prize for his bleak benefits film I, Daniel Blake.

“Films can do many things; they can entertain, they can terrify, they can take us to worlds of the imagination, they can make us laugh, and they can tell us something about the real world we live in. And in that real world – it is a bit early for a political speech, I am sorry – it is getting darker, as we know.

“And in the struggle that’s coming between the rich and the powerful, the wealthy and the privileged, and the big corporations and the politicians who speak for them, on the one hand, and the rest of us on the other, then film-makers – and we are all film-makers here -the film-makers know which side they are on, and despite the glitz and the glamour of occasions like this, we are with the people.”

Leading actress winner Emma Stone on joining together in a “divisive” climate.

“I don’t know if you realise this, but right now, this country and the US and the world seems to be going through a bit of a time – just a bit – and in a time that’s so divisive, I think it’s really special that we were all able to come together tonight, thanks to Bafta, to celebrate the positive gift of creativity, and how it can transcend borders and how it can help people to feel a little less alone.”

La La Land’s Justin Hurwitz, collecting the original music Bafta, referencing Stephen’s earlier joke about “the Russians”.

“Thank you to the Academy, or Russia. Either way, it’s an honour.”

Simon Pegg on Bafta fellowship winner Mel Brooks.

“This is the man who gave us singing and dancing Nazis. Scorsese doesn’t even do that. He gave us Hitler on ice, he gave us Hitler on dry land, he gave us Hitler on Broadway … He’s definitely got a thing about Hitler … I mean who doesn’t, right?”

While picking up the documentary prize for US prison film 13th, producer Lisa Nishimura mentioned “walls being built”.

“We really have to ask ourselves, how is it that we label people criminal? How do we think about people that look different from us?

“How do we think about our sense of other and otherness, and that sense of otherness, how it can lead us to do to one another, is something that we all must find in ourselves.

“We are in a time of great uncertainty, a time when walls are being built and borders are being closed, so these questions are more important than ever.”

Manchester By The Sea’s director and original screenplay winner Kenneth Lonergan praised his politically-minded daughter.

“If I may indulge in a personal anecdote: the morning after the presidential election in the United States, my daughter woke up in tears. She didn’t want to go to school.

My wife insisted that she go. She said there were children at school who were probably frightened and perhaps you could help them.

“She went. She turned 15 two weeks ago. She has been to five protest demonstrations in that time. I am very, very proud of her.”

Daniel Mulloy, who won British short film for Home, talked about relations between the UK and the US.

“My grandmother was a refugee from the Holocaust and I think many people here came from migrant families and have somehow been related to the crisis of the refugees at the moment.

“From my perspective, and I think from all of our perspectives, being British, our heart is love; our soul is compassion; and I think that we need that to be reflected within our governments and we need that to be reflected in our government’s policy in relation to how they deal with other countries across the Atlantic; their administrations and not put up with any racism, homophobia, Islamophobia or anything like that.

“So thank you for this. I really appreciate it.”

Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon World – which won the outstanding British contribution to cinema – talked about the impact of Brexit on the industry.

“But whatever the outcome of Brexit, you can rest assured that we will continue to seek out challenging new films with bold, diverse and authentic voices, striving to find new ways of engaging with audiences and screening unforgettable films in great new cinemas and on brilliant new digital devices.”

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