“Dear Basketball” will be competing in the category against “Garden Party,” “Lou,” “Negative Space,” and “Revolting Rhymes.”
The six-minute film is based on a letter Bryant wrote in The Players’ Tribune in 2015, in which he announced his retirement from basketball.
Keane, whose animation credits include “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” directed and used hand-drawn animation to capture Bryant.
Keane told Variety in a recent interview, “I am a movement nerd. My son Max played basketball and I constantly sketched during his games. There’s a rhythm I already knew.”
Keane’s son Max Keane served as production designer on “Dear Basketball,” and initiated its storyboarding process, including the complex images of Bryant as a boy rolling his dad’s socks into a makeshift basketball. “We filmed Kobe showing us how he did it,” Glen Keane said.
The Keanes and producer Gennie Rim teamed with Bryant to watch video of his games with the Los Angeles Lakers frame by frame.
“I can remember what it felt like in certain situations,” Bryant said. “From years of studying game films, you condition yourself to remember little details.”
Bryant played his entire 20-year professional career with the Lakers and won five championships before retiring in 2016.