Oscars Bring Historic Wins Amid Diversity Debate

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On a night when concerns over a lack of diversity cast a shadow over the Oscars, South Korean film Parasite won four awards and made history.

Parasite pulled off a surprise victory in the Best Picture category Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, becoming the first foreign-language film to win the Academy Awards’ top honor. When Jane Fonda announced the winner in the category, there were cheers from the audience.

The film also picked up Oscars gold for Best International Feature, Best Original Screenplay, and its director Bong Joon-ho became the first South Korean to win the Best Director prize. He was presented with the award by fellow filmmaker Spike Lee.

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Among other Oscars highlights, Hair Love took home the award for best animated short. The film is a deeply felt story about an African American father who learns how to style his daughter’s hair for the first time.

Hair Love co-director and writer Matthew Cherry and producer Karen Rupert Toliver stressed the importance of representation in their acceptance speeches.

Cherry urged those in attendance to support the Crown Act, which ensures protection against discrimination based on hairstyles. He accepted his Oscar in remembrance of the late Kobe Bryant, who was killed last month in a helicopter crash, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.

“May we all have a second act as great as his was,” Cherry said of Bryant. Both men were former athletes who became Oscar winners for animated short films.

American Factory from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company won for the Best Documentary prize. The film was produced by the former first family’s Higher Ground Production Company, and documents the opening of a glass factory owned by a Chinese company in a small Ohio town employing 2,000. It was the first film the Obamas produced for Netflix.

The 92nd Academy Awards took place Sunday, February 9, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, on a rainy day in usually sunny Southern California.

The Academy decided to go host-less again this year. Actress and singer Janelle Monáe opened the show, while Chris Rock and Steve Martin delivered jokes  about this year’s female director snub.

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