Buenos Aires Times

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"The Shape of Water", "Coco", "A Fantastic Woman": a distinctly Latin American Oscars

Films and directors representing Latin American countries came out on top at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday.

Monday 5 March, 2018
Best Director and Best Film laureate Mexican director Guillermo del Toro stands at the engraving station as he attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at the Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California.
Best Director and Best Film laureate Mexican director Guillermo del Toro stands at the engraving station as he attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball at the Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. Foto:ANGELA WEISS / AFP

It was an Academy Awards ceremony that had a Latin American flair: it celebrated Mexico, awarded Chile, and honoured the monsters of Guillermo del Toro. 

The Mexican director shined with "The Shape of Water", which took home four Oscars - including Best Picture and Best Director - in a ceremony that was marked by references to US president Donald Trump's anti-immigrant politics, a topic that hits close to home for those close to Mexico, and messages in favour of inclusion. 

It was also the night for the Chilean film "A Fantastic Woman", the first movie with a transgender protagonist to win an Oscar, and for "Coco", based on the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos, which was awarded Best Animated Feature.

"I am an immigrant like ... many, many of you and in the last 25 years, I've been living in a country all of our own," del Toro said. "I think the greatest thing the industry does is erase the line in the sand. We should continue doing that, when the world tells us to make it deeper."

"Beautiful traditions"

Del Toro won with a fantastic, grandiose movie that tells the love story of a mute woman that works on the cleaning staff of a top secret base in the United States during the Cold War and a humanoid amphibian who has been trapped and held captive there. 

His award was received with cheers, applause and Mariachi music in his native Guadalajara, where friends and followers of the director gathered in a commercial centre to watch the awards show and later moved to a plaza to celebrate, as if it were a victory for a football team.

Del Toro, nominated in 2007 for "Pan's Labyrinth", which took home three Oscars but was not awarded Best Director, double-checked the card to check that the right movie was called, alluding to last year's chaos during the Best Picture announcement. 

In the last seven years, Mexican directors have been recognised with over ten Oscar awards. Alfonso Cuarón won in 2014 with "Gravity" and Alejandro González Iñárritu won two years in a row - in 2015 with "Birdman" and 2016 with "The Revenant". And now Del Toro: the "Three Amigos" have won Oscars. 

In an ode to Mexican traditions, made in the United States, "Coco" took home the awards of Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song for "Remember Me", which was performed by Gael García Bernal, Natalia Lafourcade and Miguel. 

Actor Oscar Isaac, who presented the award along with fellow Star Wars castmates Mark Hamill and Kelly Marie Tran (and BB-8), exclaimed "Viva Latinoamerica!" when he read Coco's name on the card.

"'Coco would not exist if it weren't for its infinitely beautiful traditions and culture", said Lee Unkrich, director of the first feature that Pixar dedicates to a foreign culture, inspired by Día de los Muertos. 

Vega, "inspiration"

Chile added a second Oscar to its collection with Sebastián Lelio's "A Fantastic Woman". The short film "Bear Story" won in 2016.

The drama follows the life of Marina Vidal, a transgender woman, interpreted by the actress Daniela Vega, who struggles with the death of her partner among prejudice, violence, and reproach.

When receiving the Oscar, Lelio thanked Vega, "the inspiration for this movie", who was applauded in Chile by president Michelle Bachelet.

- AFP

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