‘Us Again’ Director, Zach Parrish and Choreographers, Keone and Mari Madrid

Hello everyone! Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of participating in an amazing virtual conference to celebrate the release of Disney’s ‘Us Again‘ as it arrived on Disney+! The conference was hosted and led by superstar dancer & choreographer, Derek Hough, whom we came to find out was a big fan of the short film as well! We gained some insight into what exactly it took to put this short film together and afterwards received the opportunity to speak with some of the amazing talents as well! So, here we go! Here’s my conversation with Director, Zach Parrish and Choreographers, Keone and Mari Madrid along with some information they shared during the Conference!

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‘Us Again’ Composer, Pinar Toprak and Producer, Brad Simonsen

Hello everyone! Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of participating in an amazing virtual conference to celebrate the release of Disney’s Us Again as it arrived on Disney+! The conference was hosted and led by superstar dancer & choreographer, Derek Hough, whom we came to find out was a big fan of the short film as well! We gained some insight into what exactly it took to put this short film together and afterwards received the opportunity to speak with some of the amazing talents as well! So, here we go! Here’s my conversation with Composer, Pinar Toprak and Producer, Brad Simonsen along with some information they shared during the Conference!

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A “Short” Conversation with ’22 Vs. Earth’ Director Kevin Nolting and a Mini-Review

They may have won the Oscar this year, but Pixar has not lost its “Soul.” That’s right! As we reported recently, this Friday, Pixar is debuting its latest short, 22 Vs. Earth on Disney+. The film is a prequel to last year’s Oscar winner for Best Animated Film, and recipient of the highly coveted “Mike Manalo’s Favorite Movie of the Year Award,” Soul. It reunites us with the hilarious Tina Fey as 22, as well as the unborn souls and the Jerrys, prior to 22 meeting Joe Gardner. And to commemorate the return to The Great Before, The Nerds of Color was given the opportunity to participate in a short press event with other members of the press, to speak to the short film’s director, Kevin Nolting.

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Disney’s ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Comes at a Poignant Time for Asian Americans

There’s no question the global pandemic has affected the lives of many within the United States having the highest COVID-19 cases and death rate. The previous administration under President Donald Trump blamed China for the deadly coronavirus, labeling the disease as the “China Virus” and, more broadly, putting targets on the backs of Asian Americans by fellow citizens who are angry by the economic and social impact of the pandemic. Since then, there has been a rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the U.S. After multiple attacks on the elderly Asian population, the media started to notice, thanks to the help of Asian American advocates and allies pushing for these stories to be shared. Multiple brands, including Disney, Nike, and Apple, began releasing statements condemning the attacks on Asians and where people can donate and show support.

It seems like the perfect time to release Raya and the Last Dragon, a Disney film inspired by Southeast Asian cultures and traditions. Raya and the Last Dragon is set in the fantasy world of Kumandra where humans and dragons lived together in harmony. That sadly ends when the Druun, an evil entity, threatens the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and Raya (Kelly Marie Tran), the lone warrior princess, must find the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), to stop the Druun and save the world. The film’s theme is centered around trust and how Raya must learn to trust in order to achieve saving the world.

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NOC Review: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is Relevant, Rollicking, and Remarkable

In 1937, Walt Disney debuted something that changed the history of cinema — the release of the first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This in turn gave birth to Walt Disney Animation Studios and a long history (at times problematic) of classic stories and adventures involving dragons and princesses that has, for the most part, arguably withstood the test of time from generation to generation. But generations change. Art and time change the world and, in turn, the world and time must also change art. Our expectations on the types of stories we can tell, and the cultural sources of those stories must evolve and expand, because life has become more complicated since 1937. And thus today (or rather this Friday), the world will see how far we’ve come since Snow White, when Disney introduces the world to it’s newest game-changer Raya and the Last Dragon. Now you’re probably thinking, “C’mon. Is it really a game-changer? How? Why?” And if you are thinking that, first off, that’s just rude (just kidding). And second, if you’ve been reading my reviews long enough I’m sure you’re used to my dramatic flair for hyperbole. However, to answer your question, yes. I believe it is.

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NOC Review: ‘Us Again’ Charms Right Before ‘Raya’

If you have the great fortune of seeing Raya and the Last Dragon in a safe, socially distant drive-in theater this coming weekend, I’m happy to say you’ll be treated to a neat little short from Walt Disney Feature Animation called Us Again.

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Disney’s Short ‘Us Again’ is More Than Just Dancing

Director Zach Parrish knew he wanted to tell another story for Walt Disney Animation Studios. After the success of his Short Circuit film Puddles, Parrish wanted to touch on something that he was struggling with — aging.

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‘Myth: A Frozen Tale’ Expands The Frozen Universe with Fairytale Story

Disney’s Frozen has released multiple stories surrounding the world of Arendelle and its people since the release of the original animation in 2010. Now, Disney+ is about to release the VR Short, Myth: A Frozen Tale, which transports viewers to a vibrant and mystical world where the elemental spirits (inspired by Frozen 2) come to life and the myth of their past and future is revealed. It serves as a prequel to the second film.

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Osnat Shurer, Adele Lim, and Fawn Veerasunthorn on Keeping ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Authentic

Raya and the Last Dragon is being celebrated for being the first Southeast Asian-inspired story produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, where long ago humans and dragons coexisted in harmony. After an evil force called the Druuns threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity with the creation of the Dragon Gem. Raya’s family are the Guardians of the Dragon Gem and must protect the gem at all costs. When conflict arises within the clans, the same evil returns and causes a path for destruction. It is up to Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to track down the legendary last dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) to restore the fractured land and defeat the evil surrounding it.

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Disney’s ‘Raya and The Last Dragon’ Announces the Rest of the Cast

During a special presentation with select press last Tuesday, the creative team behind Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon revealed the rest of the ensemble that joins Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina in the first Southeast Asian-inspired fantasy animation set to release this March. Set in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons coexisted in harmony. But when an evil force called the Druun threaten their world, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, the Druun have returned and it is up to Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) to track down the last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), and find the missing pieces to the Dragon Gem to rid their land of evil and unite its divided people.

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No More Mrs. Frozone: Black Women Characters in Pixar’s ‘Soul’

Black adult women aren’t often depicted in animation. Most of the Black female characters are kids or teens or little-seen moms. Some notable central characters include: Storm. Trudy Proud and Big Mama. Donna Tubbs. Uhm, the Muses? There aren’t very many. It’s the Mrs. Frozone problem, off-screen and never developed. (Pixar could stand to improve upon that problem in particular.)

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Disney’s Latest Film Shows the ‘Soul’ of New York

For an animated slice-of-Black-New-York-life, Disney’s new Pixar film Soul joins Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse in showing new parts of New York not typically glamorized by Hollywood.  Despite being one of the most famous cities in the world, there are dozens of neighborhoods and experiences viewers never see on the silver screen. New York City isn’t just the glitz and glamor of midtown, the brunch bunch of Brooklyn, or the gentrified hives in Harlem. 

The new movie takes us to an ordinary Queens middle school, where Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) is a down-on-his-luck band teacher. On his way to a gig in the Village that could finally make his music career, he falls down a manhole and dies. After he escapes the Great Beyond, he hides out in the Great Before, where pre-souls find their “spark” before being sent to Earth to be born. His mission? Help the dispassionate, uninterested-in-humanity pre-soul Number 22 find her spark, then use it to get back to Earth in time for his gig. 

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Olaf’s Story Gets Told in Disney+ Short ‘Once Upon a Snowman’

There is a lot to be said about Disney films pushing their franchise further and further by releasing more media content to the masses. It makes you wonder, do we really need more side stories about Frozen?

Well, with Disney+’s digital short, Once Upon a Snowman, it proves that we really do.

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Freida Pinto is Ready to be Queen in Disney Junior’s ‘Mira, Royal Detective’

It’s extremely hard to look directly into the eyes of Freida Pinto without blushing.

When I first entered the press room where Pinto was prepping for the premiere of Disney Junior’s latest animated series, Mira, Royal Detective, I couldn’t help but compliment her on her beauty, successful career, and her work for empowering women. Named by Vanity Fair as one of the most beautiful women in the world, Pinto humbly laughed off the compliments aimed at her and got serious when we began talking about her role as Disney royalty in the new series.

“I keep forgetting it’s a Disney Queen,” laughs Pinto. “It’s not just a Disney character.”

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Going On a Quest with the Cast and Crew of ‘Onward’

This Thursday, Pixar will unveil their latest adventure — a fantastical bromance of humor and emotion that will surely get your eyes soaking wet with tears, as par for the course from this studio. I’m speaking of course of their latest film, Onward, starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. You can check out our NOC review here. Additionally, The Nerds of Color was recently invited to the press conference of the film, to hear from Pratt and Holland themselves, as well as director Dan Scanlon, and producer Kori Rae. Here’s what the party had to say about the new film. Here’s what they had to say about the film.

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NOC Review: ‘Onward’ is Mid-Level Magic for Pixar

In the 25 years since Toy Story first hit theaters, the amount of unfavorable films to come out of Pixar versus the number of instant classics can probably be counted on a single hand. That is an insane and unprecedented track record for any studio, and frankly even their worst films are still infinitely better than the average piece of dreck to come out of, say, Illumination Entertainment. That being said, while Onward does not belong on the aforementioned single hand, it doesn’t quite hit the heights of Wall-E, Up, Inside Out, or Coco either. Don’t get me wrong, Onward is a perfectly fine movie — a good movie. It’s also just quite middle-of-the-road compared to Pixar’s usual quality for two-thirds of it. 

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Arendelle Antics at the ‘Frozen II’ Press Conference

We made it folks! It’s been a few months and our countdown is at last complete! Frozen II has arrived! That’s right, give yourselves a big pat on the back for sticking with us! To cap off everything, we wanted to take you all inside, perhaps, the most fun press conference we’ve ever covered here at The Nerds of Color. We got the chance to hear from (and bask in the glory of) national treasures Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Evan Rachel Wood, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez, and Peter Del Vecho! Here’s how the magic went down.

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Interviewing the Crew Behind ‘Frozen II’

Well folks, after a month-long countdown on our site, we are in the homestretch leading up to the release of Frozen II, and we’ve only just begun to break the ice (Wow. That was bad. Sorry.). I would like to extend my humble thanks to everyone who counted down to the film’s release with us, and we have a couple more surprises in store for you Frozen fans this week! For one, we had a chance to talk to the Heads of Animation for the film (Becky Bresee and Tony Smeed),  as well as the Head of Story (Normand Lemay) and Director of Story (Marc Smith) about the evolution of the project. Here’s what they had to say!

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NOC Review: ‘Frozen II’ is the Best Animated Movie of the Year

The Oscar Race for Best Animated Feature is over. It’s going to be Frozen II. As someone who thought Frozen, now considered by many to be a classic animated film on par with The Little Mermaid, was a very good-not-great movie, it was going to be tough for its successor to melt my icy cold heart. Rest assured, this one is grander, deeper, more challenging, and even more gorgeous than its predecessor. Walt Disney Animation Studios has made a near perfect movie here, and they deserve to be proud. Frozen II outdoes the first in every respect! Heart melted!

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Exploring the Enchanted Forests and Dark Seas of ‘Frozen II’

To countdown to the release of Frozen II, we are providing all of you with an inside look at the making of the movie, as well as interviews with the filmmakers and artists who worked incredibly hard to bring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and, of course, Olaf to life. Earlier this week, we brought you a look at how the talented team at Walt Disney Animation brought a future classic musical sequence to life. Today, we’re excited to reveal another new sneak peek at the magic to come!

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Letting Go: Deconstructing a New Musical Sequence for ‘Frozen II’

To countdown to the release of Frozen II, we are providing all of you with an inside look at the making of the movie, as well as interviews with the filmmakers and artists who worked incredibly hard to bring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and, of course, Olaf to life. A couple of weeks ago we brought you a look at the production design of the film. This week we’re excited to reveal another new sneak peek at the magic to come!

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How to Create a ‘Frozen’ World: Inside the Production Design for ‘Frozen II’

To countdown to the release of Frozen II, we are providing all of you with an inside look at the making of the movie, as well as interviews with the filmmakers and artists who worked incredibly hard to bring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and, of course, Olaf to life. Last week we brought you a look at the evolution of the sequel’s story. This week we’re excited to reveal another new sneak peek at the magic to come!

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Breaking the Ice: Evolving the Story of ‘Frozen II’

To countdown to the release of Frozen II, we are providing all of you with an inside look at the making of the movie, as well as interviews with the filmmakers and artists who worked incredibly hard to bring Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and, of course, Olaf to life. Last week we brought you just a sampling of what’s to come with a first look and panel discussion with directors Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and producer Peter Del Vecho. This week we’re excited to reveal another new sneak peek at the magic to come!

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