Pixar has been taking some pretty significant moves when it comes to representation and diversity on screen (Hollywood, you taking notes yet?).
With Moana hitting the scene pretty big with accurate representations of Polynesian cultures on screen, and even a transgender stingray in Finding Dory, Pixar is pulling out the big guns with its new film, Coco. Coco offers another important inclusion – an all-Latino cast.
Toy Story 3‘s Lee Unkrich explained to Entertainment Weekly that “It was important to us from day one that we had an all-Latino cast. It focused us, and we ended up with a fantastic mix of people — some from Mexico and some from Los Angeles.” Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, and Renée Victor are signed and set to cast in the project, as well as newcomer Anthony Gonzalez, who will make his debut as 12-year-old Miguel Rivera.
Set in Mexico on Día de los Muertos, the story follows Miguel as he embraces his love for music in a family that hates it openly. By the usual Pixar recipe’s twist of fate, he’s magically transported to the Land of the Dead and embarks on a spectacular adventure.
He meets his ancestors on a quest to find his favourite musician and tries to convince his family (you know, the live ones) to embrace music. Kind of like how Moana tried to convince her family to sail seas after a spiritual revelation with past ancestors.
Hiring an all-Latino cast to provide the voices is an important step in representation. Though none of the actors’ faces will appear in the animated film, Día de los Muertos is a sacred holiday to many people in Mexico and other Latin-American countries. And in case you’re wondering, no, it’s not the same as Halloween.
We’re living in a very significant time in history where people are finally taking a stand against white-washing and it’s especially encouraging when a massive studio like Pixar makes a concerted effort in giving people a proper platform to share their heritage. Coco will debut in theaters November 22, 2017, slightly after Día de los Muertos.
Here’s to hoping Pixar gets around to doing an animated film based on Malaysian cultures next! #wishfulthinking