The team behind “Coco,” this year’s Academy Award winner for best animated feature, used their acceptance speech as an opportunity to stand up for Mexico and Mexicans in the face of xenophobia.
Director Lee Unkrich said on Sunday that he and producer Darla K. Anderson began making the Pixar film six years ago under “a very different political climate.”
Since then, Trump has made a number of demeaning comments about Mexico and Mexican-Americans in the past, including calling immigrants rapists. The president also claimed that Judge Gonzalo Curiel― an American born to Mexican immigrant parents― wouldn’t able to rule fairly in a case involving his controversial border wall (Curiel actually sided with Trump.) Remarks like these gave the film a new urgency, Unkrich said.
“A lot of things started to be said about Mexico and about Mexican-Americans that was unacceptable,” he said.
Unkrich said the team felt the need to convey “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.”
Co-director Adrian Molina thanked the people of Mexico, emphasizing that “marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”
The film centers around Miguel Rivera, a 12-year-old aspiring musician, who travels to the land of the dead to make peace with his ancestors in order to follow his passion.