Watch the Oscar-Winning Animated Short “Hair Love”

African-Amer­i­can hair has been mak­ing head­lines for the last few years, usu­al­ly because anoth­er black stu­dent has been deemed in vio­la­tion of the dress code for sport­ing braids, dreads, or a nat­ur­al afro.

This year’s Oscar-win­ning ani­mat­ed short, “Hair Love,” about an African-Amer­i­can dad’s attempt to stay on top of his 5‑year-old daughter’s abun­dant locks, is the sweet alter­na­tive to these upset­ting news sto­ries.

Lit­tle Zuri’s dad, Stephen, doesn’t have to bat­tle clue­less or unfair admin­is­tra­tors on his daughter’s behalf, but he does need to gain the upper hand on an adver­sary with whose ways he’s unfa­mil­iar. (His own hair is styled in tidy dread­locks.)

It’s implied that tend­ing to Zuri’s hair is not exact­ly some­thing he vol­un­teered for, and indeed we learn that the task was pre­vi­ous­ly the domain of her moth­er

In des­per­a­tion, Stephen seeks advice in the form of YouTube videos, find­ing a pletho­ra, as did film­mak­er and for­mer NFL wide receiv­er Matthew A Cher­ry, who ref­er­enced some of his actu­al inspi­ra­tions in the film, like the viral video of DJ Hines’ attempt to con­tain daugh­ter Chloe’s thick hair with a pony­tail hold­er, below.

Cher­ry raised the nec­es­sary fund­ing on Kick­starter, and com­plet­ed the film in about six weeks after post­ing a call for col­lab­o­ra­tors on Twit­ter:

Any 3D artists fol­low me? I got an Oscar wor­thy short film idea to go with this image. Get at me 

As Cher­ry points out in the trail­er for “Hair Love”’s accom­pa­ny­ing book, Zuri’s robust, kinky curls—almost a third char­ac­ter accord­ing to illus­tra­tor Vashti Har­ri­son—are a mar­velous excuse to bust stereo­types by plac­ing an involved, African-Amer­i­can dad front and cen­ter.

The tale has also won a lot of fans in the can­cer sur­vivor com­mu­ni­ty for its deft por­tray­al of the effects of Zuri’s mom’s ill­ness and recov­ery on the fam­i­ly.

Read the San Fran­cis­co Film Festival’s teach­ing guide to “Hair Love” here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch 66 Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed-and-Award-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Shorts Online, Cour­tesy of the Nation­al Film Board of Cana­da

Watch This Year’s Oscar-Win­ning Short The Neighbor’s Win­dow, a Sur­pris­ing Tale of Urban Voyeurism

Watch the Pio­neer­ing Films of Oscar Micheaux, America’s First Great African-Amer­i­can Film­mak­er

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join Ayun’s com­pa­ny The­ater of the Apes in New York City this month for her book-based vari­ety series, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain, and the world pre­miere of Greg Kotis’ new musi­cal, I AM NOBODY. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.