The little known Spanish film director who won an Oscar

THE Oscar headlines may have been taken by Will Smith’s infamous slap on Chris Rock, but a Spanish filmmaker has made a little bit of history.

Spain took home its first ‘Best Animated Short Film’ Oscar, with animator Alberto Mielgo victorious thanks to a 15-minute movie called ‘The Windsceen Wiper’.

The short took seven years to make with Madrid-born Milego having to finance the project himself.

The Oscar success came as a surprise as an entry from the award-winning Aardman studio backed by Netflix was the hot favourite to win.

Entertainment: 94th Academy Awards Show
Alberto Mielgo accepts the award for best animated short film for ‘The Windshield Wiper’. Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY/Sipa USA /Cordon Press

Alberto Mielgo has worked as an animator around the world since leaving Spain as an 18-year-old. His past collaborations included working with Tim Burton on ‘Corpse Bride’ and as artistic director for ‘Tron-Uprising’.

In his Oscar acceptance speech, Mielgo emphasised that short films were just as important full-length features in conveying a message or theme. He noted that many of the nominations in the category this year were aimed at adults, moving away from the pigeon-holing of animation as ‘family-aimed’ productions. Mielgo added that he would continue to ‘explore animation for adults without boundaries’.

His first jobs were as a member of the animation team for several European children’s films, including ‘La leyenda del pirata Barbanegra’ (2001), ‘Dragon Hill: la colina del dragón’ (2002), and ‘El Cid: la leyenda’ (2003).

He then went to the United States to collaborate in the production of ‘Simbad: la leyenda de los siete mares (2003), which led him to make a name for himself in the industry’.

In addition to having been part of the concept art team for ‘The Corpse Bride’ (2005) and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ (2010), he has been art director for several performances of the virtual band ‘Gorillaz’ and the video game ‘The Beatles: Rock Band’.

In 2012 he took on the artistic direction of ‘Tron: Uprising’, a series that intermingled traditional techniques with CGI and digital animation. His work was recognised with a Primetime Emmy Award and an Annie Award.

As a result of his previous work, Mielgo was hired in 2015 by Sony Pictures Animation as a visual consultant for ‘Spider-Man: A New Universe’ in its preliminary phase, where they were already working with the idea of taking advantage of the multiverse of the saga to employ different animation techniques.

Although Mielgo ended up leaving due to artistic differences, the directors took into account his contributions to start production. The feature film ended up being released in 2018, was a box office success and was awarded the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2019.

In 2019, he participated in the animated anthology ‘Love, Death & Robots’ as director of the episode ‘The Witness’, which shows the flight of a woman through the streets of Hong Kong after witnessing a murder.

The work’s director, Tim Miller, gave him complete creative freedom and the author opted for an animation that mixed real backgrounds with digital characters.

Thanks to ‘The Witness’, Mielgo won his second Annie Award in the category of best production design for television and two Primetime Emmys.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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