‘Pinocchio’ Oscar Winner Guillermo del Toro vows to uplift animation

Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro vowed to boost animation and help the next generation of Latino filmmakers in the genre, following his Oscar win for best animated feature for his film “Pinocchio.”

“This is an art form that has been kept commercially and industrially at the kids table for so long,” del Toro said. “A win helps, but it is about going forward as a community making it.”

“Pinocchio” earned rave reviews for a stunningly beautiful production that takes a darker look at issues between the puppet and his surrogate father, Gepetto. Unlike the 1940 Disney movie, del Toro’s movie references topics like war and fascism, and he’s said it’s not about Pinocchio learning to be the perfect boy.

Del Toro has long pushed against seeing animation as only for children. He’s previously stated that animation is pure cinema and that animators should be treated as artists — not technicians.

In the movie’s credits, del Toro listed the movie’s artists who made the animation possible ahead of the film’s main voice actors, which included high-profile actors such as Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.

Following the win, del Toro told reporters he will continue advocating for animators by spurring dialogue with the Guilds and the Academy, planning to “push this message” at the upcoming Annecy International Animation Festival, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Del Toro has established two filmmaking scholarships and plans to finance a stop-motion animation class for students from Mexico at the Gobelins animation school. 

“It will help us give more movies in the community in Mexico and in Latin America, to keep pushing for stop motion, which is one of the most democratic forms of animation. All the other forms of animation are too difficult or too expensive. But a kid can put a camera on the wall in their room, they can do animation in stop motion,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In his acceptance speech, Del Toro said animation was “ready to be taken to the next step. We are all ready for it. Please help us keep animation in the conversation.”

This is Del Toro’s third Oscar; he previously won best picture and best director for his 2017 movie “The Shape of Water.”

Del Toro addressed the issue of being Latino and representation as he spoke of his efforts to help boost the next generation of filmmakers.

“The first duty of representation is to do it really well … because you’re not doing it for you,” del Toro said. “You’re doing it for people that come after you and are looking for opportunities. If you don’t that, you’re closing that door.”

When del Toro came in the 1990s to the U.S. he said he encountered “a lot of open and subtle racism.” He remembered “with great chagrin” an interview his cinematographer, Oscar-winner Guillermo Navarro, had with a talent agent.

The agent “said to him ’Why do I want a Mexican? I have a gardener.”

“You have to keep pushing it all the time. It doesn’t end with one generation. It doesn’t end with one person,” del Toro said. “But again, together you push that limit more and more and create opportunity.”

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