Animation Festival Drops Kobe Bryant After Protest Over 2003 Rape Allegation


Photo: Matt Sayles (Getty)

Oscar-winning cartoon maker Kobe Bryant was set to be a jury member on this weekend’s second annual Animation Is Film, a Los Angeles-based film festival, but organizers rescinded his invitation after the animation community protested the inclusion of “accused rapist and sexual predator Kobe Bryant.” The news was first reported by Cartoon Brew.

Bryant won an Oscar this year for his navel-gazing short film Dear Basketball, and through his recently founded Granity Studios, he’s making increased forays into the film world. ESPN recently announced that Bryant and Granity would be producing a second season of Detail, which will feature Peyton Manning, who’s been accused of sexual harassment himself.

The animation community doesn’t seem to want to let Bryant use his film company to further rehabilitate his image and try to get everyone to forget that he was accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel worker in 2003, only avoiding a criminal trial verdict by bullying her into silence and later reaching a civil settlement.

A petition started on behalf of “women and allies in the animation community” called on organizers GKIDS, Variety, and Annecy to disinvite Bryant, and in doing so, “revoke their complicity in enabling a sexual predator to continue a life without any accountability both as an individual and a celebrity.”

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GKIDS dropped Bryant yesterday, deleted him from their website, and released the following statement to Cartoon Brew:

“After discussions with the various stakeholders of Animation Is Film, the decision has been made to remove Kobe Bryant from the 2018 jury. We are a young organization and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers, and our festival attendees.”

Bryant, who was uninvited because people in the animation community didn’t want to give him a platform because of a serious rape accusation, released a very weaselly statement that only vaguely acknowledges the fact that he was uninvited because people in the animation community didn’t want to give him a platform because of a serious rape accusation.

“I was honored to have been originally invited by Animation is Film to serve on the 2018 Jury, and am disappointed to no longer serve in that capacity. This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”

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Poor Bryant, who still gets to make movies for ESPN and gets flattering write-ups for his pivot to being a business dude.

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