Diverse crowd among oscar animation nominees

Although there was lack of diversity in nominations at the Oscars, the Animated Feature Film category includes various nominees from different regions

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Director Gabriel Osorio (L) and producer Pato Escala from the Oscar-nominated short film (Animated) "Bear Story" pose at a reception for Oscar-nominated short films ahead of the upcoming 88th Academy Awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Feb 23, 2016

Though there may be a lack of diversity among this year's best actor and actress Oscars nominees, there was no such lack of range among films nominated for the Oscar in the Animated Feature Film category, which crossed international boundaries with directors representing the UK, Brazil, and Japan.

Not to mention the themes behind this year's animated films, which included very human and emotional themes, not always seen in animation in what many perceive to be a children's category.

Directors and producers who were nominated in that category attended a soiree at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills on Thursday (February 25) held in their honor where they talked about what it meant to be up for the Hollywood's most coveted award.

Only two of the films are American - Pixar's "Inside Out" which brings emotions to life and the adult-themed Charlie Kaufman stop motion animation "Anomalisa."

Kaufman's "Anomalisa" is about a middle aged motivational speaker experiencing an existential crisis who meets a woman met Lisa at his hotel who energises and inspires him.

The sex scene in Anomalisa lasted several minutes, took several months to make, and earned the film and R-rating. The film also used 3-D printers, which some of the animators behind the film said ran for hours on end to create a multitude of facial expressions.

But it's "Inside Out" that has analysts buzzing about a potential Oscar win. Though the film may have earned over $800 million at the box office, Director Pete Docter says making movies is like any other job.

"At the end of the day, this is like a blue-collar job. I know that sounds weird to say, but we essentially put on work boots, and we slog through and we build stuff and we design stuff, and we're approaching what we do in the same way that anybody does in this artform, filmmaking. And so, to be recognized by all of our fellow workers, it would be awesome."

The UK is represented by "Shaun the Sheep Movie" from Aardman Animations and a spin-off from previous Oscar winner "The Wrong Trousers" featuring Wallace and Gromit. The film follows a farmer who gets stuck in the big city away from his animals who, though often unhappy with the rigid man, team together to rescue him.

Director Mark Burton says the ability to network with those in the industry at the Oscars is unparalleled, and says he's enjoying the thrill as the excitement mounts ahead of Oscar night.

"It's not a bad feeling, I'll have to tell you. It feels pretty good. I mean, we didn't make the film to get any awards, but it's been brilliant to be able to come here, and apart from anything to mix with other, people from other parts of animation, and that's been really, really great for us."

"Boy and the World" (O Menino e o Mundo) hails from Brazil and has been receiving glowing reviews across the board for its hand-drawn animations and storytelling.

Director Ale Abreau says he's representing a minority and finds it something to be proud of.

"The fact that it gives us a voice, as a Latin American, I feel that we are a certain minority. You hear a lot about minorities at the Oscars and I think this film is precisely about giving voice to those minorities," he said.

Japan's "When Marnie was There" (Omoide no Mani) is from that country's famous award-winning animation house Studio Ghibli ("Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle"), and it's been reported that this could be the last film for that production house.

Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi says that once he heard this could be it for Ghibli even more passion when into the film's production.

"During the making of this film I heard from the producer, Toshio Suzuki of studio Ghibli, that they were going to close down making future films. So all of us were working on this film, on "When Marnie Was There," worked very hard to make sure it was a very good film that we made and we're very honoured that our efforts and feelings have been so well evaluated."