An Oscar night celebration and benefit in West Hollywood, Calif., focused on promoting artistic freedom and other basic human and civil rights, while honoring the creative excellence of the artistic community.

The 350-person charity dinner featured Oscar-nominated director Fernando Meirelles, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal (parents of actors Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal), Camryn Manheim (“The Practice”) and singer Ruben Blades, among others.

A presentation of the 2004 Artist of Conscience Award to Meirelles for his groundbreaking film “City of God” followed the dinner. The party’s theme, Artistic Freedom, was a strong draw among both artists and the community alike.

“There’s no doubt that celebrating artistic excellence is the focus on Oscar night, but with so many concerns about issues like the Patriot Act, enemy combatants, and the FBI accessing our library records,” said Bonnie Abaunza, director of Artists for Amnesty, “there is broad support in the creative community for ensuring our freedoms and liberties while we celebrate our finest artistic achievements.”

“Producing a party like this is both an honor and a challenge,” said David Strasberg, creative director and CEO of the Lee Strasberg Institute, “but when I thought about the real issues here – protecting freedom of artistic expression, and other basic rights and liberties – I knew this was something we had to do.”

The choice to honor the Oscar-nominated film “City of God” and its director was also an easy decision. “At its heart, the film is about people in marginalized and disenfranchised communities being victimized by cycles of violence and neglect,” Abaunza said.

“Although it chronicles a very Brazilian experience, it is also emblematic of too many human rights tragedies around the world, and even some civil rights nightmares here at home.”