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2 films with St. Louis ties get Oscar nominations

"St. Louis Superman" and "Hair Love" will shine the light on St. Louis stories and companies at this year's Academy Awards
Left: Lion Forge Animation was co-producer of "Hair Love," an animated short about a black father's challenge of doing his daughter's hair for the first time, that began as a successful Kickstarter campaign. Right: "St. Louis Superman," a 30-minute documentary on former Missouri Rep. Bruce Franks, has been nominated for an Oscar.

ST. LOUIS — A short documentary chronicling the life of Ferguson activist and former state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr., called "St. Louis Superman," and "Hair Love," which was co-produced by St. Louis-based Lion Forge Animation, were nominated for Academy Awards Monday morning.

"St. Louis Superman" is one of five films to be nominated for an Academy Award in the "best documentary short subject" category, while "Hair Love" was nominated in the "best animated short film" category.

Created by filmmakers Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, "St. Louis Superman" is a 30-minute documentary on Franks, a rapper and Ferguson activist who was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2016. The film focuses on Franks' efforts to pass legislation declaring youth violence as a public health epidemic as he endured his own personal traumas. Franks resigned from his seat in May saying he wanted to focus on his own mental health and family.

READ MORE: Oscars 2020: Full List of Nominees

Earlier this year, it was selected as one of two debut productions for MTV's new documentary film division. It aired on the network earlier this fall. It also won jury prize for Best Documentary Short at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the Audience Award for Best Short at AFI Docs and the Special Jury Mention at the Tribeca Film Festival, according to a MTV news release from July.

"Hair Love" is an animated short by debut artist Matthew Cherry that broke Kickstarter records before being picked up by Sony Pictures Animation. The film tells the story of a black father struggling to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

Sony Pictures Animation was searching for additional funding to complete production when it came across news stories about Lion Forge Animation, a St. Louis-based animation studio launched earlier this year with a focus on stories from diverse content creators.

The company, led by David Steward Jr. and Carl Reed, provided what Sony Pictures executive Karen Toliver referred to as "finishing funds," helping to complete production of "Hair Love," which hit theaters in August with the Sony Pictures Animation feature “Angry Birds 2.”

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held Sunday, Feb. 9.

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