Film Forward

Director Of 'Coco' Shares The Powerful Letter He Received From A Mexican-American Fan

"Thank you for making my mommy feel like she belongs."

Disney/Pixar's latest animated adventure, Coco, has been charming audiences around the world in recent weeks, having earned $280 million globally as of this weekend. The film has been especially well-received in Mexico, where it is the first film to cross 1 billion pesos ($55 million).  

Coco, which follows a Mexican boy named Miguel on his journey through the Land of the Dead, has also been shown in some theaters around the United States with Spanish dubbing or Spanish subtitles. This effort to make the film accessible to even more viewers whose culture is represented onscreen inspired one fan to write a thank-you note to Pixar.


Coco director Lee Unkrich shared the message on Twitter last week. In it, the fan shares that she is Mexican-American and has loved Pixar movies since childhood, having grown up watching the films with her immigrant parents. "The only problem was that we would have to pause the movie every 5 minutes to explain to my parents what the characters were saying because both of my parents are not very fluent in English."

The fan goes on to describe how much it meant to see Coco in theaters with her mother. "Last night, for the first time in my life, I took my mom to the movies," she wrote. "We went to the movies like real Americans do! My mother had tears in her eyes. She hadn't been to a movie theatre in over 30 years."

"Thank you for including Us," the email says in closing. "Thank you for making my mommy feel like she belongs."

It's a powerful reminder of why onscreen representation matters so much, and brings to mind similar responses to films such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Wonder Woman, for their depiction of diverse characters and empowering role models for women and girls.

A number of fans responded to Unkrich's tweet with similar stories of what Coco meant to their own families, with one follower writing, "Muchas gracias por representarnos." 

This positive response to the film is a result of Pixar's efforts to accurately and respectfully represent Mexican culture onscreen. Not only did Unkrich spend time with real Mexican families as the inspiration for the characters, but the filmmakers also received input from outside consultants.

"We're just honored and grateful that we can bring something positive and hopeful into the world that can maybe do its own small part to dissolve and erode some of the barriers that there are between us," Unkrich told the New York Times.

Even more audiences will be able to see Coco following news that Disney is removing a poorly received, 20-minute Frozen short from the start of the film beginning December 8. While the short was reportedly always planned for a limited run, Mashable reports that theaters have been directed to use the extra time for more screenings of Coco each day.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Cover image via Instagram

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of โ€” and throughout โ€” the month.


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