An animated short film co-produced by BYU animation professor Kelly Loosli was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Short category. The Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, March 10, on ABC.

The film, “Ninety-Five Senses,” was directed by former BYU students Jared and Jerusha Hess (creators of “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre”) and co-written by BYU alumni Chris Bowman and Hubbel Palmer. Two animators who worked on the film, KC Toby and Michael Grover, graduated from BYU’s animation program. It’s the first film from the Hesses to receive an Oscar nomination.

The 13-minute film tells the poignant story of Coy, an incarcerated man, as he reflects on mistakes he made during his life, as well as his hopes and aspirations for life beyond death. In the film, Coy, who is voiced by Tim Blake Nelson, reflects on each of his five senses. Each sense is depicted visually by a different animator, creating a captivating visual journey.

“There are BYU connections all across this film, and it made working together really enjoyable,” said Loosli. “There was a spirit of generosity amongst the cast and crew, and that generous feeling comes across in the film.”

Loosli got involved with the film through his work with the nonprofit MAST program of the Salt Lake Film Society, a grant-funded program pairing experienced filmmakers with new talent in the industry, with the goal of helping launch budding filmmakers and animators into bigger roles.

“The focus is on up-and-coming animators and artists and helping them move forward,” said Loosli. “We had animators in Latin America and Europe, and we were all working together. Now each of these animators can add on their resumes and portfolios that they’ve received an Academy nomination.”

Animators Toby and Grover were former students of Loosli’s at BYU just a few years ago. Loosli said he felt privileged to continue to work with them in a new capacity outside of the classroom.

“They did a phenomenal job and helped fill the voids we had as we were looking for the right animators,” he said. “And I felt really lucky to work with two former students again.”

“Ninety-Five Senses” has already received widespread recognition at film festivals throughout the world and won the Grand Jury Award for animation at the Florida Film Festival, qualifying it for the 2024 Academy Awards.

The film can be viewed for free at Documentary +