The 90th Academy Awards ceremony was held in Hollywood on Sunday night, and three films with CalArtians in key roles won Oscars: Coco, Dear Basketball and The Silent Child.
Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich and co-directed by CalArts alum Adrian Molina (Film/Video BFA 06), won for Animated Feature Film. Molina stepped onstage with Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson to thank the cast, crew, their families and the people of Mexico. “Coco would not exist without your endlessly beautiful culture and traditions,” Unkrich said. “With Coco we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”
That theme of inclusivity continued backstage in the pressroom where Molina discussed new opportunities for Latino directors and other directors of color. [“There’s an] awareness of the fact that strong storytellers come from all sorts of places. At Pixar that is something that we’re putting a lot of focus on and creating a lot of opportunity for,” Molina said. “We work very hard to show that films about communities of color, films that come from particular places have a resonance that can reach across the world. We’ve seen that with Coco, we’ve seen that with Black Panther, and I think you’re going to see it with a lot of other films in the future.”
The CalArts community was supportive of Molina, with hundreds sending their well-wishes via social media. We spotted this Tweet from Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch (Film/Video BFA 07), who attended both the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) and CalArts with Molina.
Here’s a pic of lifelong buddy @AdrianTheMolina from when we were 16 at art summer camp together. So proud to see him tonight holding the Oscar for @pixarcoco Congratulations dude!! pic.twitter.com/FAsETghgN9
— Alex Hirsch (@_AlexHirsch) March 5, 2018
Glen Keane (Film/Video 74) and Kobe Bryant won the Oscar for Short Film (Animated) for the film, Dear Basketball, based on Bryant’s poem that was published upon his retirement from professional basketball. “[The film is] a message for all of us,” Keane said from the stage. “Whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible.”
The Oscar marked Keane’s (and Bryant’s) first nomination and win, although the veteran animator has worked on iconic characters in feature animation films throughout his career, including Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Beast from Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan in the film of the same name.
Backstage, Keane talked to Good Morning America about his animation process, style and creating Dear Basketball.
Director @glenkeaneprd says the hand-drawn style of how to animate "Dear Basketball," which won an #Oscar for Best Animated Short, was @kobebryant's idea. Backstage #Oscars moments sponsored by @Cadillac. https://t.co/6YJWYVSrEb pic.twitter.com/1A456mtAXD
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 5, 2018
The Silent Child, directed by Chris Overton and written by Rachel Shenton, won the Short Film (Live Action) category. The short focuses on a deaf 4-year-old girl who lives in silence until a caring social worker teaches her how to communicate. The film was scored by composer and CalArts alumnus Amir Sadeghi Konjani (Music 15).
Listen to some of Konjani’s work in The Silent Child featurette below.