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Guillermo del Toro on ‘Subtle Racism’ After Oscar Win: ‘There’s a Glass Ceiling, and You Have to Keep Pushing’

After his latest win, the "Pinocchio" director also reaffirmed his commitment to fund scholarships for aspiring Mexican animators for another decade.

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar, and Alex Bulkley, winners of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film award for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

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Few filmmakers have been more outspoken about their passion for animation than Guillermo del Toro, who has long advocated for the medium to be revered with the same gravitas as live-action filmmaking. Speaking to the press backstage after winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” the director once again called for the industry to hold animators up as serious artists.

“It’s important that animation is done by people who are given license, who are given permission to be treated as artists, not just technicians,” del Toro said. “This is an artform that has been kept, commercially and artistically, in the kids table for so long.”

After offering his support to animators, del Toro opined about the racism that he has faced at various points in his career as a Mexican filmmaker. He recalled a conversation in the 1990s in which a movie producer asked his future “Pan’s Labyrinth” cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, “Why do I want a Mexican, I have a gardener?”

While del Toro said he’s happy that some progress has been made, he called on the Latin filmmaking community to stick together to fight the racism that they still face. He reminded minority filmmakers that, when one artist from a marginalized group achieves something great, they all benefit.

“Every time you stand to do a job as a Latin or minority, you’re not alone. And the first duty of representation is to do it really well,” del Toro said as he encouraged his fellow Mexican filmmakers to keep making great films. “There’s a lot of subtle racism. … There is a glass ceiling, and you have to keep pushing all the time.”

Del Toro’s passions for elevating the art of animation and creating opportunities for minority filmmakers intersected in 2018 when he launched the Animexico scholarship fund. That program sees del Toro funding tuition and living expenses for aspiring animators who were born in his native Mexico. In the press room after his Oscar win, the filmmaker reaffirmed his commitment to continue funding the program for another decade in honor of his late mother, who passed away in October.

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