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Mr. Morris Lessmore Wins the Oscar

Oscar ceremonies tend to be a bit tedious but with Billy Cristal hosting I knew it wouldn’t be that bad since he always seem to know how to inject humor into the proceedings. I probably would not have watched it at all were it not for the possibility of home-grown Louisiana talent winning one of those coveted statues.

Yeah, winning an Oscar is a big deal even though, as Cristal joked, it is all about millionaires giving out golden statues to each other. Funny and true. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So when I saw that Moonbot Studios was up for an Academy Award for their short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore I knew that not only Shreveport where the company is based waited to hear the results with bated breath but many Louisianians, including myself, sat on the edge of their seats as the envelope was torn open.

The other contenders seemed to be pretty formidable, one from that animation powerhouse Pixar, and I thought well what chance could a little company from a town in Louisiana have. I must confess that when the card was pulled out of the envelope and the result was read “The Fantastic FLying Books…” my heart swelled and I could feel tears coming to my eyes.

There were some shrieks in the audience as the two directors made their way to the stage where they self-effacingly called themselves “swamp rats” thanking the Academy for awarding their little studio in Louisiana such an honor.

This win is huge for our film industry here. Yes, we’ve had many films that were made by Hollywood companies win a slew of Oscars. This speaks well for the state’s ten year effort to draw film productions here with its generous tax credits. But this is the first time a company born and raised in Louisiana has won an Oscar on its own. It is an important and significant honor.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  Animators Willia...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Directed by Brandon Oldenburg and award winning author and illustrator William Joyce the short film is a mix of miniatures, 2D animation and computer animation. But how it was done is less important than the beautiful, sweet story itself. Set in the aftermath of a hurricane It’s about the healing power of books. There is something very Southern in the way the narrative unfolds, very touching and very deep.

I downloaded the film from iTunes and on my first viewing was impressed with the quality of the animation, the silent storyline – no words are spoken – and the stirring music. On my second viewing I saw all the details that I didn’t catch the first time, the little nuances not obvious at first.

It was this attention to detail and the beauty of the whole production that made me realize that its winning an Oscar was no fluke. It was well-deserved. Kudos to Moonbot Studios and congrats to the creators of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The short can be downloaded from iTunes. Yes, you can watch the entire thing on YouTube with diminished quality but do yourself a favor and pay $1.99 so you enjoy the beautiful graphics and colors of this award-winning little film.

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Posted in Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana, New Orleans Art.

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