That seemed to be the underlying theme of last night’s 92nd Academy Awards. From Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite making history as the first (South) Korean and non-English film taking home the night’s biggest prizes to the now Oscar-winning short film “Hair Love” making a statement—not only black hair, but also as a clarion call for more people of color in animated films.
The short, directed by Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr., and CalArts alum Bruce W. Smith (Film/Video BFA 83), focuses on an African American father attempting to style his young daughter’s hair for the first time.
Producer Karen Rupert Toliver and Cherry accepted the Oscar, and in his speech, Cherry said, “I just want to say that Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation. We wanted to normalize black hair. There’s a very important issue that’s out there. It’s the Crown Act. And if we can help to get this passed in all 50 states, it will help stories like DeAndre Arnold’s, who’s our special guest tonight, stop to happen. This award is dedicated to Kobe Bryant. May we all have a second act as great as his was. Thank you.”
“Hair Love” won the category that featured Daria Kashcheeva’s “Dcera (Daughter)”; Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson’s “Kitbull”; Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre’s “Memorable”; and CalArtian Siqi Song’s (Film/Video MFA 16) “Sister.”
Other films to take home the coveted Oscar statuettes included Ford v. Ferrari, directed by CalArts alum James Mangold (Film/Video BFA 85), and Toy Story 4, which won the Oscar for Animated Feature.
Mangold’s film won for Sound Editing (Donald Sylvester) and Film Editing (Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland). McCusker acknowledged the director during his acceptance speech: “James Mangold, it’s my great, great pleasure to have sat and watched you become one of the best directors in this business in the last 15 years. Thank you so much.”
In the Animated Feature category, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4, directed by Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen, and Jonas Rivera, won the Oscar. Several CalArtians were involved in the making of the film, including alum Andrew Stanton (Film/Video BFA 87), who wrote the screenplay with Stephany Folsom. Stanton also served as one of Toy Story 4’s executive producers, alongside CalArtian Pete Docter (Film/Video BFA 90), and others.
Klaus, directed by CalArts alumnus Sergio Pablos (Film/Video 92), was also nominated in the Animated Feature category.