Kickstarter-Funded ‘Hair Love’ Wins Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film

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Matthew Cherry
Matthew Cherry

Tonight the Kickstarter-funded short Hair Love won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Hair Love is the third Kickstarted film to take home an Oscar, and 2020 marks the tenth consecutive year that a Kickstarter-funded project has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Hair Love publicly began its journey in the summer of 2017 as a Kickstarter campaign by director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry, who had previously used Kickstarter to fund his feature films 9 Rides (2016) and The Last Fall (2012). The inspirational short follows an African-American father’s first attempt to do his daughter’s hair. The idea for the project came from Matthew’s desire to promote hair love among young people of color, and to push back against the absent black father stereotype and the lack of black representation in mainstream animated films.

The project received sweeping national attention; by the end of the campaign in August 2017 4,981 backers had pledged $284,058 to successfully fund the film, almost quadrupling Matthew’s original goal of $75,000 and breaking the record for Kickstarted animated shorts.

On the morning of the awards ceremony, Matthew wrote to his backers:


I just wanted to take the time this morning to thank each and everyone one of you for supporting and believing in Hair Love as early as you did. No matter what happens tonight we already won and you all are a part of an Oscar nominated animated short film and a New York Times Best Selling Picture Book. Thank you again for your support.


We’re so honored to have been a part of this beautiful film journey. Congratulations to Matthew and the entire Hair Love team!

Short films thrive on Kickstarter, with backers having pledged over $41 million to more than 7,332 successful shorts projects since 2011. This year, we’re calling on filmmakers to launch new short film campaigns this March as part of our Long Story Short initiative, where we are offering bespoke crowdfunding guidance and featuring short film projects on our platform throughout the month so industry friends in funding, programming, acquisitions, and distribution can track projects to discover new talent.

Seven out of 16 of the Kickstarter-funded Oscar nominations have been in one of the Academy’s short film categories. We believe in filmmakers who start small, but have big vision and even bigger ambitions for their project—and who want their community with them every step of the way. With Long Story Short we’re hoping to give even more shorts filmmakers a greater reason to launch their project into the world with us.