‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ wins best animated feature

LOS ANGELES (AP) – “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” has won an Oscar wish come true.

The director’s stop-motion musical version of the doll longing to be a real boy earned Netflix its first animated feature trophy on Sunday.

The category has mostly gone to a Walt Disney or Pixar-produced film in the past decade—with the exception of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

“Animation is ready for the next step. We’re all ready for this. Please help us keep the conversation going,” del Toro said.

“Pinocchio” was considered a contender for victory. He has won multiple awards, including a Golden Globe and top honors at the animation industry’s Annie Awards.

The film beat Turning Red, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, and The Sea Beast.

The voice cast includes Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.

It received rave reviews for being breathtakingly beautiful Production that takes a dark look at love and mortality between the title character and surrogate father Gepetto. The polar opposite of Disney’s 1940 version, this “Pinocchio” references Catholicism, fascism, and the ugliness of war.

The film wasn’t about the title character learning to be the perfect boy, del Toro said.

“I think it’s a lesson that is urgent in the world,” he told reporters in the press room afterwards. “We say disobedience is not only necessary, it is a virtue.”

Mexican-born Del Toro, who won the Oscar for best director in 2018 for The Shape of Water, has said that animation is pure cinema. Animators have, in recent years, fought against the stigma that cartoons are just a children’s genre.

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For del Toro, animators should be treated as artists – not technicians. He pointed out that in his “Pinocchio” they were listed in the credits before the main speakers.

“This is an art form that has been kept at the kid’s table commercially and industrially for so long,” del Toro said. “Winning helps, but it’s about moving forward as a community and making it happen.”

Co-director Mark Gustafson repeated that message on stage.

“It’s so good to know that this art form that we love so much — stop motion — is very much alive and healthy,” said Gustafson.

Del Toro, who created two filmmaking grants, says he’s now committed to funding a stop-motion class for students from Mexico at Gobelins Animation School. Young people, particularly those who are Latino or minority, carry an inherent pressure to succeed.

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

When del Toro came to the United States in the 1990s, he encountered “a lot of overt and subtle racism.” He recalled “with great regret” an interview his cinematographer, Oscar-winner Guillermo Navarro, conducted with a talent agent.

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

While things have improved for people of color, there is still a very difficult glass ceiling to overcome.

“You have to keep pushing. It doesn’t end with one generation. It doesn’t end with one person,” del Toro said. “But together you push this limit more and more and create opportunities.”

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