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Oscars: ‘Coco’ Co-Director Proclaims ‘Representation Matters’

Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” has won the Academy Award for best animated feature for director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, marking Disney’s sixth consecutive win in the category.

“‘Coco’ is proof that art can change and connect the world, and this can only be done when we have a place for everyone and anyone who feels like an other to be heard,” said producer Anderson.

Co-director Adrian Molina thanked the people of Mexico. “‘Coco’ would not exist without your endlessly beautiful culture and traditions. With ‘Coco’ we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can see characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters,” he concluded.

Molina, however, was not eligible to be named as part of the winning team, since Academy rules allow only one director and one producer to be named.

Molina, who is Mexican-American, had been a storyboard artist at Pixar when “Coco” was first being developed. He told reporters backstage that when he learned it would be made, he made sure to become more involved in the making of the film. He was eventually elevated to co-director.

“I was one of those people who said, ‘I need to work on this film,'” Molina said. “There was so much that I’d love to bring to a story like that.”

Unkrich said that the presidential election and electoral victory of President Donald Trump brought an urgency to the filmmaking process. The makers of “Coco” said they wanted to counter the rhetoric by Trump about Mexicans, in particular for children. “We wanted to give Mexican and Mexican American kids something to look up to,” Unkrich said.

Anderson, fielding a question about whether Pixar may one day make a film featuring an LGBTQ character, said “That’s a dream,” adding that every kind of diversity is important to represent.

“Coco” topped an eclectic field that included DreamWorks Animation’s “The Boss Baby,” “The Breadwinner,” “Ferdinand,” and “Loving Vincent.” It is the second Oscar for Unkrich, who won in 2010 for “Toy Story 3.”

“Coco” follows Disney victories for “Zootopia” last year, Pixar’s “Inside Out,” Disney Animation’s “Big Hero 6” and “Frozen,” and Pixar’s “Brave” in 2013.

“Coco” was a worldwide success at the box office with $740 million in global grosses, led by $208 million in North America, $189 million in China, and a record-setting $57.8 million in Mexico. “Coco” is set in Mexico and centers on a music-loving 12-year-old boy being accidentally transported to the land of the dead, where he seeks the help of his great-great-grandfather to return him to his family — including his 99-year-old great-great-grandmother Coco.

“Coco” had been the heavy favorite for the Oscar as it dominated the awards season with victories for best animated film at the Annie Awards, the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the Producers Guild of America, and the Visual Effects Society.  The film’s “Remember Me” received an Oscar nomination in the best song category.

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