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Kunio Katō's 'La Maison en Petits Cubes' Wins Oscar (Update 2)

posted on by Egan Loo
1st anime to win major Academy Award since Spirited Away in 2003

Kunio Katō's "La Maison en Petits Cubes" has won the Best Animated Short Film category at the 81st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night. This was the first Academy Award nomination and win for Katō. Katō's 12-minute work uses paper drawings and 2D computer graphics to tell the story of a grandfather's memories as he adds more blocks to his house to stem the flooding waters. "La Maison en Petits Cubes" ("Tsumiki no Ie" or House of Blocks) is the second Japanese animated work to win a major Oscar.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had nominated Koji Yamamura's "Mt. Head" in the Best Animated Short Film category in 2003, but Yamamura's work did not win that year. Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away won the Best Animated Feature Film of the Year category in 2003, while his Howl's Moving Castle lost to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in the same category in 2006. The academy did not nominate a Japanese animated film for the best animated feature film this year.

Katō's short was competing in the Oscars with Konstantin Bronzit's "Lavatory - Lovestory," Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand's "Oktapodi," Doug Sweetland's "Presto," and Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes' "This Way Up." Katō already won the Annecy Cristal and a Junior Jury Award at France's Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market in June, as well as the Hiroshima Prize and the Audience Prize at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in August.

The film is playing in select theaters in the United States as part of Magnolia Pictures' The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2009 collection.

Thank you to Sydney2K for the news tip.

Update: Andrew Stanton and Pixar's Wall-E has won the Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature Film of the Year category.

Update 2: Yojiro Takita's live-action Departures (Okuribito) has won the Foreign Language Film category. The film earned Japan its twelfth nomination in the category and its first win. Japan had won three Special or Honorary Awards prior to the establishment of the category in 1956 for Samurai, The Legend of Musashi (1955), Gate of Hell (1954), and Rashomon (1951).

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