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“How would you make a film without women in it? You have to celebrate them,” Freida Pinto said at the 10th annual Women in Film cocktail party at Nightingale Plaza Friday night. But action and politics eclipsed Champagne and small talk at the annual pre-Oscar fete to honor female nominees. Cohosted by WIF president Cathy Schulman and Brie Larson, the event drew Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Ava DuVernay, Viola Davis, Zoë Kravitz, Michelle Dockery, Rowan Blanchard, Nicola Peltz, Amy Landecker, Kiersey Clemons, Camilla Belle, Jenny Slate, Gaby Hoffmann and many other boldfaced names.

Streep told her peers, “Everyone is speaking up and that’s great because with numbers they can’t ignore us. Stuff can change. You have to really feel the urge under your feet and act.”

She then passed the baton to DuVernay, who roused the crowd to cheers with, “Our ancestors have taught us how to fight. We’re in a fight right now. I hope you take the energy in the room like this and extend it throughout the whole year.”

The gathering, presented by Max Mara and BMW, had the feel of a glamorous town hall, with guests calling for action while wearing designers like Rodarte instead of jeans. Gabrielle Union noted, “A lot of it is not being content with being the [only woman]. Once you figure out the formula, you continue to bring other people along and demand real inclusion.” She continued, “Any project I’m apart of at this point, I’m executive producing. I need to have the ability to employ people in front of and behind the camera.”

Before guests could dig into the buffet, Larson charged them with a task. “We will be here a year later,” she said. “Let’s talk about how this was the moment when we went ‘I got it, I know how to make a better place.’ Artists are the ones the politicians fear. It’s always been the case. So let’s do it. Let’s let them be afraid of us.”

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