Jojo Rabbit filmmaker Taika Waititi has made Oscars history by delivering the first land acknowledgement speech in the history of the Academy Awards, in what can only be described as a huge win for diversity and Indigenous representation.
It’s been a huge day for Waititi, being the first Maori filmmaker to ever win an Oscar, but like the absolute legend he is, he used his platform at the awards for a much bigger purpose.
The Maori Jewish actor/director/filmmaker picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay award for his film Jojo Rabbit, in which he plays Adolph Hitler himself.
Week one down of our anti-fuckface satire, Jojo Rabbit. Can't wait to share it with the world. Also, what better way to insult Hitler than having him portrayed by a Polynesian Jew?
???? #FuckYouShitler @jojorabbitmovie @foxsearchlight pic.twitter.com/bNZ2YlDgaF
— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) June 1, 2018
In his Oscars acceptance speech, he dedicated his award to Indigenous people around the world.
“I want to dedicate this to all the indigenous kids in the world who want to do art and dance, and write stories,” he said. “We are the original storytellers, and we make it here as well. Thank you.”
But he didn’t stop there. Taika also made history by delivering the first ever land acknowledgement speech at the Academy Awards.
“The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works.”
— cherrywaves (@heather28df) February 10, 2020
The ceremony’s land acknowledgement speech received a huge outpour of support on Twitter, with film fans glad to see the Academy finally acknowledging the traditional owners of the land in which they live and work.
WOW! Did they just do a land acknowledgement??? Way to go #Oscars2020! Now let’s open up space for films by/about/starring Indigenous people.
— Melina Abdullah (@DocMellyMel) February 10, 2020
TAIKA WAITITI just did a LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT at the #OSCARS. So important to recognize the Los Angeles Basin, or Tovaangar, as the traditional, ancestral, UNCEDED land of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples. We live on stolen land.
— ???????????????????? ???????????????? (@altonwang) February 10, 2020
Land acknowledgement by @TaikaWaititi.
I stan so hard right now. ???? #Oscars
— Dr. Twyla Baker (@Indigenia) February 10, 2020
Waititi also used his press room speech to discuss the film’s importance amid the resurgence of nazism and hate speech in recent years, calling it “the perfect time for a film like this.”
#JoJoRabbit director Taika Waititi says he doesn't understand why Nazis are allowed to hold rallies these days when they used to be thrown in jail #Oscars https://t.co/tU5RoHIcJU pic.twitter.com/7fHAVjazIO
— Variety (@Variety) February 10, 2020
Overall, this year’s ceremony has seen a substantial increase in diversity. We’ve seen Bong Joon Ho picking up the Best Director award for Parasite, not to mention the film managed to win both Best International Film AND Best Picture.
We’re far from where we need to be in regards to diversity and adequate representation in Hollywood, but Taika Waititi’s inspiring speeches at today’s ceremony can only be seen as a huge step in the right direction.
We need more diversity in film. The world needs to hear the stories that Indigenous people like Taika Waititi are trying to tell, and we need to give them a platform to tell those stories in the ways in which they see fit. Here’s hoping Taika’s bravery at this year’s ceremony hopes to pave the way for a more diverse film industry in the coming years.Image: Getty Images / CRAIG SJODIN