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90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

SPEECH BY: Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson


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Q. Can you talk about the contribution of Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson‑Lopez with their music and especially for their song "Remember Me," which resonated not only in Mexico but in countries throughout the world with strong traditions of honoring the dead?
A. (Lee Unkrich)  Sure.  We have been friends with Bobby and Kristen for a long time.  I was a huge fan of their work.  I always wanted to work with them.  So when we started developing COCO, initially we thought maybe we would do a full‑on musical, so we started working with Bobby and Kristen and they wrote a bunch of songs for us, including "Remember Me."  Ultimately, we ended up going down a different path, but "Remember Me" remained the bedrock of the movie, and we just can't imagine the movie without it.  So they made a huge contribution to the film.

Q. Your win represents the victory for all Latinos because your movie validates our culture, that our culture could win an Oscar.  So what could we do so other Latino directors, U.S.‑born Latino directors specifically could have opportunities to direct movies starring Latinos, and what would you tell those directors, you know, at this moment?
A. (Adrian Molina)  You know, it takes an ‑‑
A. (Darla Anderson)  This is the future.  This is the future.
A. (Adrian Molina)  ‑‑ awareness of the fact that strong storytellers come from all sorts of places.  At Pixar that is something that, you know, we're putting a lot of focus on and creating a lot of opportunity for, and I'm very thankful for the team and for the opportunities on this film, but, you know, 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.  We've seen that with COCO, we've seen that with BLACK PANTHER, and I think you're going to see it with a lot of other films in the future, and it takes going hand in hand with the studio executives and the creative talent to recognize that that is a fact and to support each other.  And that is happening, and we're starting to see it.

Q. It's quite good to see you here because I read that you weren't supposed to be part of the reception of the prize, but you are a co‑director so obviously they include you.  But the thing that I want to ask you, I read, like, many times that you're like Mexican descent, but I'd like for you to talk a little bit about that.  What's all your families from Mexico?  What generation are you?  Were you familiar with ‑‑ I think you grew up in California.
A. (Adrian Molina)  Yes.

Q. So you are probably very familiar with a lot of Mexican traditions, but I'd like for you to talk a little bit about that, yeah, just about the Mexican connections.
A. (Adrian Molina)  Yeah.  You know, of all of the people at Pixar who, when they heard that me and Darla were going to be making a film about Mexico and the Día de los Muertos, you know, I was one of the people who said I need to work on that film.  There is so much of my love and experience and ‑‑ so much that I would love to bring to a story like that.  My mother is from Jalisco, my dad is half Mexican but grew up in Whittier, and I grew up in Grass Valley, California.  My dad used to be in a trio band.  And there is so much of my experience growing up, so much of the pride in coming from a family and a place that, you know, is proud of who they are, but to have this opportunity to reflect all of those experiences with a wonderful team at Pixar was something that, you know, I knew ‑‑ if not now, then when?  So, you know, thank goodness for Lee and Darla for believing in this story, wanting to do due diligence by culture and representation and creating this thing that has really affected the whole world.

Q. [Speaks in Spanish.]  You highlighted and you thank Mexico for this movie.  What does it mean, especially in these times, when, you know, there can be strained relationships between Mexico and the U.S.?
A. (Lee Unkrich)  We started making COCO six years ago, and it was a very different political climate, of course, than we find ourselves in now.  While we were making the film we had a change of presidency, and a lot of things started to be said about Mexico and about Mexican Americans that was unacceptable.  And while we were making the film, we began to feel a new urgency to get the movie out into the world, to get a positive message about the beauty of Mexico, the beauty of the Mexican people, the beauty of their culture and traditions into the world, and also give Mexican and Mexican American kids something to look up to, something to aspire to and to see a bit of themselves up on screen.  And the entire time we were making the film, from that point on, we just ‑‑ we knew how important it was and we tried to make the best film, the most authentic, the most respectful film that we could, and it just means the world to us that the film ended up being the biggest movie of all time in Mexico, and that it's done so well all around the world, including in places like China that you wouldn't expect a film like COCO to do well in.  But its messages about family and the importance of remembering our loved ones and keeping their memories alive seem to resonate with everyone around the world.

Q. Congratulations.  First off, thanks for you coming to Ireland earlier on in the year.  We were talking to you over there.  Hope you had a great time when you were over. 
A. (Darla Anderson)  Yes.

Q. Obviously, you mentioned that representation is so important with these films, and I noticed that you guys thanked your LGBT partners on the stage.  So would you say that LGBT representation and story lines and characters are something we might see in the future within Pixar films?
A. (Darla Anderson)  I mean, that's a dream, yes.  I mean, I think that every ‑‑ every kind of diversity, LGBTQX, you know, COCO is a great example of diversity and representation and the success of that, and I think that we would both be very excited ‑‑ all of us would be very excited to have characters like that represented as a protagonist role in every realm.  And so that would be a dream, that would be a hope, and we're all talking about all kinds of things like that right now.



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