‘Coco’ Director: ‘Marginalized People Deserve to Feel Like They Belong’

“Art can change and connect the world and this can only be done when we have a place for everyone and anyone who feels like an ‘other’ to be heard,” said producer Darla K. Anderson

While accepting the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, “Coco” director Lee Unkrich said he genuinely tried to change the world with his film.

“With ‘Coco,’ we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do” Unkrich said. “Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters.”

Producer Darla K. Anderson echoed his sentiments. “‘Coco’ is proof that art can change and connect the world,” she said, “and this can only be done when we have a place for everyone and anyone who feels like an ‘other’ to be heard.”

The film follows a 12-year-old Mexican boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who yearns to follow in the footsteps of the legendary musician Ernesto De La Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) despite the protests of his grandmother (Renee Victor), who bans music in the family. During Dia De Muertos, Miguel sneaks into the church where Ernesto’s guitar is located and is transported to the Land of the Dead, where he meets his ancestors and a trickster named Hector Rivera (Gael Garcia Bernal). As he tries to find a way back to the land of the living, he uncovers why his family is forbidden to play music.

Co-Director Adrian Molina, who was not eligible to be named as part of the winning team because the Academy rules allow only one director and one producer to be named, said, “Love and thanks to my family, my Latino community, to my husband Ryan. Each for expanding my sense of what it means to be proud of who you are and where you’re from. We hope the same thing for everyone who connected with this film.”

Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) and Adrian Molina directed the film from a script written by Molina and Matthew Aldritch.