I missed this when it was announced last week, but a Pixar animator now is an Academy Award nominee because of his short film, inspired by his childhood at a Route 66 motel in California.
Sanjay Patel, with producer Nicole Grindle, were nominated for an Oscar in the short film (animated) category for “Sanjay’s Super Team.”
Here’s a synopsis of the film:
Young Sanjay, a first-generation Indian-American, is obsessed with television, cartoons and his superhero action figures. He is reluctant to spend time in daily prayers with his devout Hindu father, but a flight of imagination helps him develop a new perspective that he and his father can both embrace.
A short excerpt from the film:
In an interview with the San Bernardino County Sun, Patel graduated reminisced about his old stomping grounds in San Berdoo. The “Sanjay’s Super Team” reflected his childhood on Route 66:
The senior Patel, who had studied telecommunications, brought his family to the U.S. from London where he worked, and purchased the Lido Motel, an old Route 66 stop-off, which provides the setting for the animated film story.
Sanjay remembers watching his favorite superhero cartoon there, “Super Team” — while his father knelt a few feet away, engaged in puja, the daily Hindu ritual of prayer and meditation, a perfect illustration of the generational immigrant culture clash.
Thirty-five years later, Patel’s mother and father still run the motel there in San Bernardino.
A behind-the-scenes video shows Patel’s father going through his morning rituals:
Patel has told multiple media outlets he was a bit embarrassed by his upbringing. But longtime Pixar animator John Lassiter — who directed the Route 66-inspired “Cars” — encouraged him to reconcile that background and base a film from it.
But according to The Telegraph in London, Patel’s father ultimately got him to take the plunge:
“I was really reluctant, I was very scared to do it,” Patel told MTV. “Embracing this part of my identity, let alone even talking about my parents culture or their rituals, it just felt like really sacred to me and really personal and really vulnerable. So I was really scared to talk about all of that in such a public way.”
It was Patel’s father, however, who encouraged him to tell their story after he told him his fears. His dad said that as Pixar had supported and educated the filmmaker for two decades, it would be “bad karma to not at least try and do what they’re asking you to do.” […]
His father, who doesn’t speak English as a first language, summed up the whole film with his thoughts: “Father and son – they look into each other’s eyes and they find a way to compromise.”
“Sanjay’s Super Team” was paired with the Pixar animated feature “The Good Dinosaur,” which grossed more than $260 million in the United States alone.
Patel will find out whether he wins an Oscar during ABC’s Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 28.
(Image of “Sanjay’s Super Team” poster via Wikipedia)