Taika Waititi has won best adapted screenplay at the 2020 Academy Awards for “Jojo Rabbit.” Taking the stage, the actor, director and writer joked about his statue, “This is really light! It’s supposed to be heavy.”
Turning serious, Waititi started to get emotional thanking his mother, as well as the original author of “Jojo Rabbit” Christine Leunens, stating, “There are many people that I want to thank, but I won’t because I can’t remember them.”
He then dedicated his win to “all the indigenous kids of the world who want to do art and dance and write stories.” Waititi said, holding up his trophy, “We are the original storytellers and we can make it here as well. Thank you.”
Waititi, a New Zealander, is the first Oscar winner of Maori descent.
“Jojo Rabbit” follows a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany during World War II. After being raised under the banner of Nazi propaganda, Jojo spends most of his time training for war and talking to his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi). But his values are challenged when he discovers his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), has hidden a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their home.
Bouncing off Waititi’s speech was his mother, Robin Cohen, who introduced the writer/director to the book and encouraged him to adapt it to film.
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Backstage, Waititi made a lot of jokes. When asked how he’d broken it to Leunens that his movie would be very different from “Caging Skies,” he said, “She had seen my other films, and she knew I was incapable of making a drama.”
Waititi called his own acceptance speech “the worst,” and said that he had told people in his life that should he win, “I’m not going to thank you — I did all the typing.”
He had a few moments of seriousness. One was when he said that it’s an honor that the Shoah Foundation will develop a classroom curriculum around “Jojo Rabbit.”
Waititi also commented on the rise of Nazism, especially when compared to the end of World War II. “If you were a Nazi, you would go to jail,” he said. “Now you’re a Nazi, feel free to have a rally down in the square with your mates.”
But woe to the poor reporter who asked Waititi about the potential for a writers strike this spring. In response, Waititi delivered a long monologue about how the keyboards on PCs are much better than Apple keyboards. “Apple keyboards are horrendous!” Waititi said with a straight face. “We’ve just got to fix those keyboards. The WGA needs to step in.”
This is Waititi’s first Oscar win, but not his first nomination. The director was also nominated in 2005 for the short film “Two Cars, One Night.”
“Jojo Rabbit” was nominated for six Oscars including a nomination for actress in a supporting role, film editing, costume design, production design and best picture.
Kate Aurthur contributed to this report.