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American Film Institute Awards Honors WEST SIDE STORY, tick, tick...BOOM!, and More

Morgan Freeman delivered a speech.

American Film Institute Awards Honors WEST SIDE STORY, tick, tick...BOOM!, and More

Yesterday, March 11th, the American Film Institute (AFI) celebrated the 2021 AFI AWARDS honorees with a star-studded invite-only luncheon in Beverly Hills. AFI also REVEALED its official rationales (below) for all 23 honorees, providing the cultural and artistic context to mark these
outstanding creative endeavors as the year's notable milestones. 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 the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike and enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form.

At the close of the event, Morgan Freeman delivered the annual benediction in celebration of the honorees' remarkable achievements. He also honored the legendary Oscar®-winning actor, director, activist and champion of civil rights - and AFI's Founding Vice Chair - Sidney Poitier, who passed away earlier this year. "Sidney was my compass showing me the way, my one bright light who illuminated the path for me to walk upon," said Freeman. "And even though Sidney is no longer with us, his light will never dim. And no matter where you are from or who you are, he was, is, and always will be an inspiration."

Guests in attendance at the AFI AWARDS luncheon include: Paul Thomas Anderson, Caitríona Balfe, Murray Bartlett, Ashley Nicole Black, Casey Bloys, Kenneth Branagh, Nicholas Braun, Connie Britton, Dove Cameron, Jane Campion, Kristin Chenoweth, Tim Cook, Bradley Cooper, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alexandra Daddario, Ariana DeBose, Michael De Luca, Guillermo Del Toro, Eugenio Derbez, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Daniel Durant, Aunjanue Ellis, Toby Emmerich, Andrew Garfield, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Matthew Greenfield, Kathryn Hahn, Sterlin Harjo, William Jackson Harper, Siân Heder, Cooper Hoffman, Jung Ho-yeon, Paula Huidobro, Brad Ingelsby, Devery Jacobs, Lisa Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Lee Jung-jae, Keegan-Michael Key, Troy Kotsur, Tony Kushner, John Landgraf, Donna Langley, Andie MacDowell,
Leonard Maltin, Marlee Matlin, Thuso Mbedu, Kevin Messick, Molly Smith Metzler, Rita Moreno, Rob Morgan, Julianne Nicholson, Sarah Niles, Evan Peters, Brittany O'Grady, Margaret Qualley, Frank Rich, Ann Sarnoff, Ted Sarandos, Jac Schaeffer, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, J. Smith-Cameron, Sarah Snook, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Strong, Scott Stuber, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Denis Villeneuve, Dana Walden, Ari Wegner, John Wells, and more.

AFI's global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning on March 12, with new and exclusive content released daily on and its social media platforms. For the complete list of winners, visit

About the American Film Institute (AFI)
The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI's enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood THE TEST of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations.

AFI exhibition programs include AFI FEST, AFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI's newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,,, and

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