Albuquerque, N.M., Feb 04 (AP/UNB) — When the Super Bowl halftime show began, Yol-Itzma Aguirre and her relatives watched with anticipation. The El Paso, Texas, family was curious how Colombian-born Shakira and New York-raised Jennifer Lopez, two of the world's most popular Latina artists, would seize the stage.
The performance Sunday was draped in Hollywood tropes of female sexuality. But it also contained subtle political messages about anxieties shared by many Latinos in the U.S. — children in cages, Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the urge to be heard.
Aguirre, 39, had to watch the performance again. "My sister was tearing up. We saw more things," Aguirre said. "We stopped caring about the game."
Across the U.S., Latinos took to social media to praise and dissect the show.
Shakira paid homage to her Colombian roots by performing the mapalé — an Afro-Colombian style of dance from the country's Caribbean coast. She also made a tongue-flicking cry called a zaghrouta, a way to express joy in Arab culture. Her father is of Lebanese descent.
During her performance, Lopez brought out a dual Puerto Rican-American flag while her daughter sang the lyrics to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." Her daughter and other children with American flags on their shirts had emerged from what appeared to be steel cages.
"Let's get loud!" Lopez sang as her daughter sang the Springsteen hook. Shakira hit some drums.
In the background, strobe lights crossed each other to form an image of a cage.
Latinos saw the juxtaposition as a call for them to vote, being mindful that American authorities on the U.S.-Mexico border separated migrant children from their parents and locked them up.
"It was brilliant," said Aguirre, a writer who has toured immigration facilities holding children.
Others pointed out that Lopez held up a Puerto Rican flag — once banned in 1948 — at a time of anger over how President Donald Trump has handled relief efforts after the island was hit by the hurricane and a recent earthquake.
The flag became a symbol of resilience and hope following the hurricane, which struck in September 2017 as a Category 4 storm. It caused more than $100 billion in damage and killed an estimated 2,975 people in its aftermath. The flag also became a symbol of resistance and justice last summer when massive protests over corruption and other issues led to the resignation of the island's former governor.
Luivette Resto, a Puerto Rico-born poet who now lives in Los Angeles, said she felt conflicted about the use of the flag because of the island's history.
"Puerto Rico is still a colony of the U.S.," Resto said. "We're treated like property."
But Resto said she was glad the appearance of the flag sparked needed conversations about Puerto Rico's status.
Still, she was disappointed that more Afro-Latinos or Mexicans were not represented in the performance — a critique shared by many on social media. The legendary Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte from San Jose, California, opened the Spanish broadcast for Super Bowl LIV, but the performance was not seen on the English broadcast.
Others said they are satisfied by the overall Latina theme of the performance.
"It was a PERFECT example of how different cultures can exist under the 'Latino' umbrella," comedian Cristela Alonzo tweeted. "We are different from each other and therefore should be allowed to tell DIFFERENT stories. See us as individuals."
The halftime show wasn't the only moment for Latinas on Super Bowl Sunday. The game began with multi-platinum Demi Lovato singing the national anthem. The Albuquerque, New Mexico-born Lovato is a descendant of Francisco Perea, a Hispanic hero for the Union in the Civil War who saw President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
The rendition by Lovato, who is recovering from drug addiction, sparked an emotional response from the people of New Mexico — a state with the nation's highest percentage of Hispanic residents that has historically had some of the country's highest drug overdose death rates.
For Shakira, this wasn't her first time participating in an event with a political dimension. In 2011, for example, she told The Associated Press that proposed anti-immigrant legislation in some U.S. states went against her foundation's efforts to provide education to poor people around the world.
The Grammy Award-winning singer said Latino immigrants in the U.S. who were facing anti-immigrant bills would have "justice" as public awareness about their plight grew.
"Justice will come. I'm sure," Shakira told the AP after receiving an award at Harvard University. "Wherever there is ... a kid, who could be the son or the daughter of a Latino immigrant, who cannot attend a school in the United States of America, that kid should be a concern to all of us and our responsibility."
Lopez rarely speaks out on social issues, and her fiance, retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez, famously avoided addressing the mistreatment of Latinos as an active player.
But in recent months, Lopez has loaned her name to causes. In August, she signed an open letter in support of Latinos after deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Gilroy, California.
Gut-wrenching World War I epic "1917" was the big winner at Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, winning seven prizes including best picture and best director.
Sam Mendes' drama about one of the most devastating conflicts in British history bested hotly tipped American contenders including "Joker," "The Irishman" and "Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood" at a glitzy London event that was overshadowed by criticism of the nominees' lack of diversity — even from some of the nominees themselves.
Director Mendes based "1917" on his grandfather's wartime experiences. Shot in sinuous long takes that immerse viewers in the action, it follows two British soldiers on a perilous mission across No Man's Land to try to avert a suicidal offensive.
"1917" was also named best British film and won the cinematography prize — Roger Deakins' fifth win in that category. It also took trophies for production design, sound and visual effects.
Joaquin Phoenix was named best actor for superhero story "Joker," which charts the origins of Batman's ginning nemesis. Renee Zellweger won the best actress prize for the Judy Garland biopic "Judy."
"Joker" took three awards — best actor, casting and score — from 11 nominations. Martin Scorsese's mob drama "The Irishman" had 10 nominations but went home empty-handed.
Victory at the British awards, known as BAFTAs, is often a good predictor of success at Hollywood's Academy Awards, being held this year on Feb. 9. Like the Oscars, the British awards have struggled to become less male and white.
No women were nominated as best director for the seventh year running, and all 20 nominees in the lead and supporting performer categories were white.
Phoenix slammed the lack of diversity in his acceptance speech, saying it sent "a very clear message to people of color that 'You're not welcome here.'"
Awards organizers called it "disappointing" that there were no performers of color among the acting nominees, who are chosen by 6,500 academy members who work in the U.K. and international film industry.
The rising star award -- the one trophy decided by the public -- went to black British actor Micheal Ward.
British star Cynthia Erivo, who is Oscar-nominated for her performance as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in "Harriet" but was snubbed by Britain's Academy, declined an invitation to perform at Sunday's award ceremony in protest.
The British Academy has promised to review its voting procedures.
BAFTA chairwoman Pippa Harris said the problem was "an industry-wide issue."
"It takes everyone to look at what they're doing," she said. "Awards are right at the end of a whole process, and so we need to look at the types of films being made, the opportunities that people are getting, how the films are being promoted. All of these things play a part."
Presenting the best-director award, Australian actress Rebel Wilson quipped that she could never achieve what the nominees did: "I just don't have the balls."
Scarlett Johansson, a best-actress nominee for "Marriage Story," said the lack of recognition for female directors was disappointing.
"So many women made great films this year," she said. "And I think it just goes to show you that there is a systemic problem that is very prevalent."
Hours before the event and several miles away, three people were wounded and a knifeman shot dead by police in what police called a terrorism-related attack. The BBC canceled plans to broadcast interviews from the red carpet on its news channel as a result.
Brad Pitt was named best supporting actor for "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," Quentin Tarantino's bloody fairy tale of 1960s Los Angeles.
He didn't attend, but sent a jokey acceptance speech, read out by his co-star Margot Robbie
"Hey Britain - heard you just became single. Welcome to the club," he said — one of several references during the ceremony to the U.K.'s exit from the European Union, which became official on Friday.
Pitt also referenced recent tumult in Britain's royal family, saying he was going to name the trophy Harry, "because he's really excited about bringing it back to the States with him."
Laura Dern was named best supporting actress for playing a take-no-prisoners divorce lawyer in "Marriage Story. She noted that her mother, Dianne Ladd, had won the exact same prize in 1975, when Dern was 6, for "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."
Bong Joon-ho's Korean-language drama "Parasite" was named best foreign-language film and also took the prize for best original screenplay.
Organizers set out to make the awards ceremony carbon neutral for the first time. The red carpet was made from recycled fibers. Instead of the goody bags of past years, guests will receive a "gifting wallet" made from recycled plastic and containing vouchers. The post-awards dinner featured sustainably sourced food, including a vegan option.
Stars walking the red carpet were encouraged to make "sustainable" fashion choices by wearing an outfit they already owned or renting one for the occasion.
Prince William — the British Academy's president — and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, were the guests of honor at Sunday's ceremony. William presented a BAFTA Fellowship, the academy's top honor, to Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
"The Lord of the Rings" and "Planet of the Apes" star Andy Serkis -- the maestro of motion-capture acting -- was handed a prize for outstanding British contribution to cinema.
Falling two days after Britain left the European Union, the evening couldn't avoid the subject of Brexit.
"We know it's been a hard week for you guys and it's very nice to take a little bit of your gold, back home -- where it belongs," joked New Zealand director Taika Waititi as he collected the best adapted screenplay prize for "Jojo Rabbit."
Winners of the 2020 British Academy Film Awards, presented Sunday:
Film -- "1917"
British Film -- "1917"
Director -- Sam Mendes, "1917"
Actor -- Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker"
Actress -- Renee Zellweger, "Judy"
Supporting Actor -- Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood"
Supporting Actress -- Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"
Rising Star -- Micheal Ward
British Debut -- Writer/director Mark Jenkin, producers Kate Byers and Linn Waite, "Bait"
Cinematography -- Roger Deakins, "1917"
Original Screenplay -- "Parasite"
Adapted Screenplay -- "Jojo Rabbit"
Film Not in the English Language — "Parasite"
Original Score -- Hildur Guðnadóttir, "Joker"
Editing -- "Le Mans '66"
Production Design -- "1917"
Casting -- "Joker"
Costume Design -- "Little Women"
Sound -- "1917"
Visual Effects -- "1917"
Makeup and Hair -- "Bombshell"
Animated Film -- "Klaus"
British Short Film -- "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)"
British Short Animation -- "Grandad Was a Romantic"
Documentary -- "For Sama"
Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema -- Andy Serkis
Academy Fellowship -- Kathleen Kennedy
Descending from the air, Lady Gaga kicked off a pre-Super Bowl concert by mimicking her entrance to her Super Bowl halftime performance three years ago, which earned her raved reviews.
Headlining the big sports stage was a recurring theme of her Miami concert Saturday night, and the pop star sent a message to Sunday's featured performers: "I better hear no lip-syncing tomorrow!"
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will join forces to perform at Super Bowl 54 at the Hard Rock Stadium, when the San Francisco 49ers will take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
Gaga has denounced lip-syncing since the beginning of her career, which kicked off in 2008 with her multi-platinum album, "The Fame." Moments after delivering the sharp comment as she sat by the piano, she told the audience: "I love you Miami. I love you J. Lo. I love you Shakira."
Gaga performed at the AT&T TV Super Saturday Night show at Meridian at Island Gardens. Toward the end of her show — which closed with an epic perfomance of her Oscar- and Grammy-winning smash "Shallow" — she said she hoped Lopez and Shakira shine onstage.
"I wish so much love and so much luck to everyone that's doing the halftime show, to both the teams that are playing each other in the Super Bowl," she said. "They're all champions."
Teary-eyed, she thanked the audience for their support and for allowing her to perform at the halftime show in 2017.
"Thank you so much for believing in me. I remember when I played the halftime show and it was one of the most special, beautiful things that's ever happened to me. So, thank you," said Gaga, who also wowed audiences at the 2016 Super Bowl when she sang the national anthem. "And once again, all my love to everyone that's performing and playing tomorrow. I hope they all feel as lucky as I do right now."
Gaga performed a two-hour set Saturday, changing three times during the performance, which she kicked off in a glittery bodysuit and flowy, blue hair. She ran through a number of hit songs, including "Just Dance," "Poker Face," "Born This Way," "Bad Romance" and "Telephone."
Feverish fans cheered loudly at the standing-only concert, and one of them even threw a letter onstage, which Gaga read out loud.
"In 2014 I fought for my life due to mental illness that stemmed from my own insecurities and life experiences. Without your radiant positivity and encouragement, I don't know if I would have had the strength to continue to fight to recover my life back," Gaga read from the letter.
She invited the fan onstage and hugged her tightly.
Gaga said AT&T TV will donate $1 for every tweet using #SuperSaturdayNight to her Born This Way Foundation, which supports mental and emotional wellness.
"We put mental health first aid into schools around the country and we're going to continue to do that until we get it in every school. It's a goal of mine," she said.
Gaga, who has openly talked about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, went on to perform "Million Reasons," saying: "I wrote this song because I was going through a rough time, and when life gave me a million reasons to want to give up, I just needed one good one to stick around."
"And I was lucky enough at the Super Bowl a couple years ago to sing this song and I'll never forget it — I was singing it and I looked out in the audience and I swear to God I saw my parents," she continued. "When I said, 'Hey Mom and Dad,' at the Super Bowl, that wasn't planned. I really saw them. I saw them among a sea of people and it was because I could feel their hearts, because if it wasn't for my family I'd be nowhere. I love you, Mom and Dad. I love you, Natali, my sister."
"Parasite" has continued its march through Hollywood's awards season by winning the best original screenplay honor at Saturday's Writers Guild Awards.
The Nazi satire "Jojo Rabbit" took home the best adapted screenplay honor.
The Writers Guild Awards were roughly a week before the Academy Awards, where both films will compete in the best picture category.
The "Parasite" win went to Bong Joon Ho, who is also the film's director and Han Jin Won. Taika Waititi won for "Jojo Rabbit," a film he also directed and starred in.
HBO swept the top television awards, winning the drama category for "Succession," the comedy category for "Barry" and the best new series honor of "Watchmen."
The premium cable network's limited series also won the original long form prize, while FX's "Fosse/Verdon" won the adapted long form award.
Saturday's awards were handed out in concurrent ceremonies in New York and Beverly Hills, California.