The best movies won awards and speeches were given, just like every year. But this time the celebration was unique because the leading protagonists were not actors or directors. The spotlight went, time and time again, to the values of inclusion and human rights captured on film during the past year.
Speeches demanding equality between men and women once again appeared during the Oscars celebration, the most memorable being the one given by the best actress winner, Frances McDormand. During an unforgettable moment, the feminist actress asked to all the women nominees in the theatre to stand up, honoring them and demanding more gender equality in film projects.
“Okay, look around everybody. Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.”
There is no any doubt that her powerful speech made history, clearly and directly demanding more labor opportunities for women involved in the film industry.
Her priceless speech finished with a great reference to movie contracts. She ended saying “I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider”, making reference to the “inclusion rider” clause that requires cast and crew on a film to meet a certain level of diversity.
The Oscars this year also were marked by sexual diversity. Daniela Vega, a transgender Chilean actress, became the first openly transgender presenter in Oscars history.
She introduced Sufjan Stevens’s performance of “Mystery of Love” from Call Me By Your Name, one of the nominated movies that tells the love story of gay couple. But, even better, the Chilean film “A Fantastic Woman”, interpreted by Vega, was the winner in the category Best Foreign Language Movie, becoming the first film from Chile to win an Oscar.
The speech of one of the winners for Best Live Action Short Film, Rachel Shenton, will be always be remembered. She signed her entire to demonstrates the importance of accessibility in the movies and demanding a more inclusive world for the deaf community. The awarded movie called “The Silent Child” tells the story of a deaf child and how she faces several social barriers. Maisie Sly, the six year old child starring the leading role in the movie is indeed a deaf person, which makes the movie itself a great demonstration of inclusion and empowering persons with disabilities.
But this year’s Oscars celebration, while a global celebration of inclusion, was marked was a distinct flavor of México. The films “Coco” and “The Shape of Water” were the biggest winners of the night!
Even though “Coco” is not made in México, it is about of one of the most important and well known Mexican traditions, “the day of the dead”. The film Coco won as best animated picture and also for best original song. “Coco” showed the world the great and rich culture that Mexico has. The film overbooked movie theaters not only in México; Chinese theaters also sold out, with the second largest audience in the world.
But was the Mexican director, Guillermo Del Toro, who swept the night away. He was awarded as best director and best film for his movie “The Shape of Water”. Del Toro once again gave a unforgettable speech, thundering about the pride of immigrants, himself as prime example.
In his speech, the Mexican director reminded the world why the film industry was so important. “The greatest thing our art does and our industry does is to erase the lines in the sand. We should continue doing that when the world tells us to make them deeper”. A strong political message perhaps aimed most clearly at the Trump proposal to ‘build a wall’ on the border.
Films are like travel, they are the best proof that borders are not necessary to build a better reality, that international cooperation works much better without borders. Discrimination, can be defeated if people know better the reality of other cultures and social groups. Just like in a movie, the deconstruction of stereotypes and a society with more solidarity can be built through travel experiences showing reality, not stereotypes.
Since 2014, the Oscars has been become increasingly “mexicanized” by popular Mexican directors and this year was no exception. In a country ruled by a political class sick of power and corruption, the Mexican victories of Cuarón, Inñárritu and Del Toro are more than simple Mexican pride, they are a social balm for an injured society. With them and their movies, the entire Mexican people travels around the world spreading our demand for a better country with better public institutions.
As Del Toro said, “what we have to bring to the world discourse, to the world conversation is extremely important, it is honoring your roots and honoring your country“. It is time to Travel for Justice, honoring our culture and our nature, the human nature.