One of the most unique short film successes of recent years has premiered online today. Matthew A. Cherry, former NFL football player and now celebrated film and TV director, had a simple idea—inspired by YouTube clips of black fathers working on the hair of their sons and daughters, he wanted to create a short animation film around the subject, one that combatted negative stereotypes around black fatherhood and mainstream conceptions of beauty. Despite lacking a background in animation, Cherry took the project to Kickstarter to try and raise $75k towards producing it independently.
The campaign went viral, as many hi-profile advocates in entertainment lent their aid to its promotion. Along the way he acquired several collaborators, including veteran animation directors Bruce Smith and Everett Downing Jr., as well as actress Issa Rae, who provided voice-acting to the film. The simplicity of its message tapped into an enormous latent desire to see a uniquely black, and yet relatable issue depicted in animation, striking a chord with audiences worldwide. The film went on to raise over $300k on the platform, setting a short film record.
Buoyed by the success of the campaign, the film was adapted into a bestselling book, and was acquired for distribution by Sony Pictures Animation, one of the only times we can ever remember an independent short being acquired by a major animation studio. The film premiered theatrically in front of Angry Birds 2 this summer, and is now being released online by the studio as part of a “For Your Consideration” campaign to boost its shot at Oscar. Seeing the finished film has only increased audience opinion of the project, as Twitter is full of heartfelt testimonials to the moving nature of the short. Check out the full film below!
#HairLove is live! It’s an animated short film about an African American father learning how to do his daughters hair for the first time. Written & Directed by me, co-directed by @BruceAlmighteee @Mr_Scribbles & stars @IssaRae. @SonyAnimation #HairLove pic.twitter.com/RRlh2Ncol1— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) December 5, 2019