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Kobe Bryant removed from animation festival jury after protest

A still from “Dear Basketball,” the 2017 animated short film made by Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant and Gennie Rim. (Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant and Gennie Rim. (2017))
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EARLY THIS year, more than 17,000 people signed a petition to revoke Kobe Bryant’s Academy Award nomination. Although the petition didn’t secure its goal — the NBA legend won the Oscar for his animated short “Dear Basketball” — a recent petition achieved a similar mission.

Women and Allies launched a petition urging leaders of the Animation Is Film Festival to remove Bryant as a juror because of sexual assault allegations made against him in 2003.

On Wednesday, the event — which is set to run this weekend in Los Angeles and is produced by GKIDS — officially announced Bryant will not serve as a festival juror.

The petition, signed by more than 200 people, said that “women and allies of the animation community demand that accused rapist and sexual predator Kobe Bryant be removed” from the jury. The petition emphasized that one of the festival’s “primary purposes is to champion and support women filmmakers.”

In announcing Bryant’s removal, GKIDS chief executive Eric Beckman said in a statement: “We are a young organization, and it is important to keep our collective energies focused on the films, the participating filmmakers, and our festival attendees.”

Responding to the decision, Bryant said in a statement: “This decision further motivates me and my commitment to building a studio that focuses on diversity and inclusion in storytelling for the animation industry. I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership, in order to inspire the next generation.”

Working with Disney legend Glen Keane, Bryant won the Academy Award for animated short this year for “Dear Basketball,” which illustrated his love for the sport and was based on an essay he wrote shortly before his retirement.

Bryant was charged with raping a 19-year-old hotel worker in 2003, but the case was dropped when she refused to testify. Bryant settled a civil suit with no admission of guilt.

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