LOS ANGELES – A Spanish producer told EFE on Friday that being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short was surreal and incredible.
Nuria Gonzalez Blanco is part of the team whose short “Late Afternoon” has been selected to opt for one of the film industry’s most coveted awards, which were set to be announced during a glamorous ceremony on Sunday.
“It’s a mix of sensations. I’m very happy, but I find it hard to believe; it’s like, am I here? As a producer working in animation, you’re behind the scenes most of the time,” Gonzalez said. “And all this, the attention, seeing that people like the work that you’ve done, the recognition, makes you feel very special.”
“My family is very proud and that’s very nice,” she added.
With a big smile on her face stretching from ear to ear, Gonzalez – who was born in Granada (southern Spain) but lives in Ireland – welcomed the Efe interviewer at a Beverly Hills (California) hotel a few days before stepping on the exclusive red carpet as a candidate for the gilded statuettes popularly known as the Oscars that are adjudicated yearly by the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Late Afternoon, directed by Irish filmmaker Louise Bagnall, faces stiff competition from four other contenders: “Animal Behavior,” “Bao,” “One Small Step” and “Weekends.”
Gonzalez – an avid globetrotter who grew up in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta and in Madrid, but has also lived in Scotland and Singapore – has now stumbled upon a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make it in Hollywood, a notoriously difficult industry when it comes to achieving success.
After studying optics in Spain, Gonzalez decided to try out some animation courses in Scotland.
“And I dove right in. I said: ‘I don’t know if I’ll find a job, but I really want to do it and I don’t want to die without having tried,” she explained to EFE.
After starting work at the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, Gonzalez began to develop Late Afternoon alongside Bagnall, who suddenly approached her with a pitch.
“At that moment, I said: ‘Yeah, of course.’ It was an impulse, I knew her and I liked working with her,” she said. “Later, at night, I thought: ‘Oh my, what if I don’t like it at all...’”
But she met with Bagnall for lunch, read the first draft, and fell in love with the story.
Late Afternoon focuses on an elderly lady suffering from senile dementia who drifts back through her increasingly-fragile memories.
The short’s two-dimensional artistic style that relies on hand-drawn lines and watercolors is meant to evoke the fuzziness of distant recollections.
“I really like to explore emotions. With animation, you can play with metaphors and tell stories that could perhaps be too tough if filmed as live action,” Gonzalez said.
As the ceremony at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater draws closer, the team’s excitement is starting to bubble.
“I am looking forward to living that experience, I’m sure we’ll have a great time and I think it’ll be a beautiful day to remember, come what may,” Gonzalez said. “I say this a lot, but the thing is, it’s true: we’re very happy to have been nominated alongside great shorts, I’ve enjoyed them very much. And honestly, in my opinion, whoever wins deserves it and that’s it.”