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Meet the Filipino animator who earned Academy Award nomination

by | Entertainment

Feb. 19, 19 | 9:30 am

A Filipino-American animator earned a nomination from one of the most prestigious award-giving body in the film industry, the Academy Awards.

Bobby Pontillas, who works as an animator and Art Director at Taiko Studios, is one of the three 91st Academy Awards nominees with Filipino bloodline and is among the five nominees who are vying for the Best Animated Short Film Award.

He was born in the United States to Filipino parents who realized he wanted to become an animator after watching the Disney movie “Tarzan” as a kid.

As he grew older, he started to develop a love for drawing and even attended the Art Institute of Seattle. Pontillas also took more online animation courses through Animation Mentor.

Since then, he has worked at Blue Sky and Disney. Pontillas has worked on several Disney films, including “Zootopia”, “Tangled”, “Frozen”, and “Wreck-It Ralph” to name a few.

Now, Pontillas is working at Taiko Studio and, together with his fellow animator Andrew Chesworth, is nominated for their short animated film titled “One Small Step”, which also marks the former’s debut as writer and director.

The said short animated film tells the story of a Chinese-American girl named Luna who dreams of becoming an astronaut. The story also showed how Luna’s father who works as a shoemaker helped her and inspired her to reach for her dreams.

“I think with any of these projects the hardest part is figuring out the story. Trying to say something very personal but also universal. In the end, the film is a culmination of all our experiences. We could all relate to dreaming big and working hard to get there, but we also wanted to say a very personal thank you to the people that supported us along the way. In story meetings, we would open up and share personal stories growing up. So making the film was a very cathartic experience for us!” Pontillas told Esquire regarding “One Small Step”.

He added that the said film was dedicated to his mother who hails from Camarines Sur.

“I hope she [his mother] was proud. The film is a love letter to her and people like her. It’s saying, ‘I know I wasn’t always the greatest son, but thank you for always being there.’ She’s a single mother to an only child and she worked hard to make sure I had a good life.

“Both Shaofu [producer] and I are children of immigrants. My mother came from the Philippines at a young age, joined the U.S. Navy, and started a new life in America. That could not have been easy. Our parents had to sacrifice so much for us and I don’t take that for granted,” he said.

“One Small Step” will be competing against “Animal Behaviour” by Alison Snowden and David Fine, “Bao” by Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb, “Late Afternoon” by Louise Bagnall and Nuria González Blanco, and “Weekends” by Filipino-Canadian Trevor Jimenez.

The 91st Academy Awards or Oscars will happen on February 24, 2019.

Watch “One Small Step” here.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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