Fil-Aussie Director Robertino Zambrano: Will he get an Oscar nomination?

It may be an anxious wait for Filipino-Australian Director Robertino Zambrano whose collaborative animation work – ‘Love in the Time of March Madness’ – has been shortlisted for the 88th Academy Awards. But Robertino told Ang Kalatas that in his mind “they have already won” having gone this far.

“We never really thought we’d get accepted into Tribeca Film Festival where we premiered – let alone get qualified to apply for Academy consideration,” he told AK in a recent interview.

Robertino with co-director Melissa Johnson

Robertino with co-director Melissa Johnson

“In my mind we have already won to make it this far. Anything extra is a pure bonus.”

‘Love in the Time of March Madness’, a 9-minute animated film, started as a YouTube project between Robertino and Melissa Johnson (they’re co-producers and co-directors).

Being in the shortlist means he’s getting close to a nomination. His is one of just ten animated films chosen from a field of 60 qualifiers, a field that qualified from hundreds of entries from around the world.

“I didn’t believe it at first. When I realised the news was real, the excitement was unbearable, and it kept me and my co-director Melissa Johnson buzzing for a few weeks,” said the 32-year old Robertino.

The official list of Oscar nominees will be announced on January 14.

Melissa tells her own story in the film drawing from her unique and unusual vantage point as a tall woman on the dating scene. After hitting 6’4″ in the 8th grade and becoming a college basketball star, the film follows her hilarious and awkward misadventures in romance as she dates shorter men and gets cheered or jeered wherever she goes.

Powerful storytelling and narration is brought to life by Australian animators KAPWA Studioworks which used a combination of traditional 2D animation techniques, hand generated textures and digital 2D and 3D animation techniques. The result is a stunning frame-by-frame oil paint-like technique giving the short an amazing hand-made look and feel.

The Oscars shortlist is the latest in a long list of awards and accolades for the short film. These include: Tribeca Film Festival (Best Online Short Film), Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Winner, Best Short Documentary), Sydney Underground Film Festival (Winner, Audience Choice Award), among others.

Robertino revealed that ‘Love in the Time …’ was supposed to be a six-month YouTube project. But a few months into the development stages, he told Melissa that they should “have a crack at doing this properly.”

The six-month project turned into a three-year production. The labour paid off with the film being screened in over a dozen major international film festivals.

Blazing with honesty and dark humour, LOVE IN THE TIME OF MARCH MADNESS is a ‘tall short’ – a true story that dip’s into Melissa’s thoughts and memories and is all about embracing difference.

Melissa describes it best when she says: “After all, we don’t see other people the way that they are, we see them the way that we are.”

Melissa is a writer and filmmaker living in Venice, California known for ‘Brittney Griner: LIFESIZE’ a documentary currently airing on ESPN.

Robertino was born in the Philippines. He studied design at the University of Technology in Sydney and soon focused on animation.

His family grew up in Malabon. His father originally hails from Ilocos Norte while his mother (Martinez) is originally from Romblon. Robertino currently resides in Sydney.

He was in the Philippines for the New Year holidays to take time off a very busy year travelling around Cebu, and up north in the Mountain Province. He also spent time in Manila to link with the Filipino film community.


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