Pixar’s first short featuring a non-Caucasian character.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: With the announcement of its latest short Pixar appears to be throwing a few ethnic ingredients into its production line.
“Sanjay’s Super Team” is slated to be directed by Pixar veteran and Indian American artist Sanjay Patel and draws its inspiration from his own life. In the film, Pixar amalgamates the worlds of Patel’s favorite cartoons with the Hindu deities worshipped by his parents.
The short will premiere at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France come June, the festival announced Tuesday, but will be released theatrically ahead of Pixar’s feature release, “The Good Dinosaur.”
According to the L.A. Times:
The seven-minute short begins with young Sanjay watching cartoons and eating cereal in a bland, beige room as his father jingles a bell, beckoning him to join in meditation. Reluctant and bored by the ceremony, Sanjay begins daydreaming a kind of ancient, Hindu version of “The Avengers,” with the gods appearing like superheroes. As the daydream progresses, the color, light and animation of the film grows increasingly dazzling and cosmic, and Sanjay grows closer to understanding his father’s inner world.
The film is set in an old Route 66 motel in San Bernardino, California, which was inspired by the Lido Motel that Patel’s immigrant parents owned and lived in when he was growing up, and own today.
“If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and give my younger self this short,” Patel told the LA Times. “I want to normalize and bring a young brown boy’s story to the pop culture zeitgeist. To have a broad audience like Pixar’s see this. it is a big deal. I’m so excited about that.”
Patel, who illustrates Indian graphic novels in his spare time, originally pitched the short to executives at Pixar in the summer of 2012. The piece is slated to make history as Pixar’s first short — or feature film, for that matter — to star a non-Caucasian character.
“It took me a long time to feel safe with my identity,” Patel said. “But [Pixar Chief Creative Officer] John Lasseter felt strongly about celebrating the personal side of the story.”