CalArts alumni take home Oscars

California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The 90th annual Academy Awards brought several successes for California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) alumni who took home awards for their work on “Coco,” “Dear Basketball” and “The Silent Child.”

The first of these winners included 2006 graduate Adrian Molina who received an Oscar in the Animated Feature Film category for his work on Disney/Pixar’s “Coco.”

“Coco” tells the story of an aspiring musician, Miguel, who enters the land of the dead to explore his family’s history and heritage in Mexico.  The film received praise from critics for its commitment to diversity and its display of Mexican culture.

“It takes an awareness of the fact that strong storytellers come from all sorts of places. At Pixar that is something that we’re putting a lot of focus on and creating a lot of opportunity for,” said Molina, who co-wrote and co-directed the film.  “We work very hard to show that films about communities of color, films that come from particular places have a resonance that can reach across the world.”

The film also won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Remember Me” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, as well as a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature.

CalArts alumnus and 1974 graduate Glen Keane also won an Oscar for his work on “Dear Basketball.”  Keane, who directed the film, won in the Short Film (Animated) category.

“Dear Basketball” is the animated telling of Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant’s love poem he wrote to the game on The Players’ Tribute following his retirement Nov. 29, 2015.  The film was voiced by Bryant and scored by John Williams.

“[The film is] a message for all of us,” Keane said during his acceptance speech.  “Whatever form your dream may take, it’s through passion and perseverance that the impossible is possible.”

Amir Sadeghi Konjani, a 2015 graduate of CalArts, was also recognized for his work as a composer on “The Silent Child Film” which won an Oscar in the Short Film (Live Action) category.

The film tells the story of a deaf 4-year-old girl who lives in silence until a social worker teaches her how to communicate.

Additional CalArts alumni were nominated in two categories for their work in film this year.  Alumni Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito were nominated in the Animated Feature Film category for their work on “The Boss Baby” and alumnus James Mangold was nominated in the Writing (Adapted Screenplay) category for his work on “Logan.”

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