Filmmaker Cynthia Kao Has Concerns Whether Oscar Winning Short “Two Distant Strangers” By Netflix And NowThis News Plagiarized Her Work

Cynthia Kao, producer, filmmaker and comedian, in a TikTok video going viral has pointed out the similarities between a short film she made in 2016 and a short film that recently won an Academy Award.

Without making any direct allegations, Filmmaker Cynthia Kao notes how her film Groundhog Day For A Black Man and Two Distant Strangers, Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short Film, share plot themes while giving her audience an insight into the backstory.

In the aftermath of George Floyd‘s killing and the resultant protests, Kao says she was contacted by publication NowThis News in 2020 for permission to amplify her short film on their platform, owing to its topicality.

‘When a black man lives the same day over and over again, he tries changing his behavior to survive a police interaction,’ reads the description for Kao’s short film Groundhog Day For A Black Man on YouTube.

The permission email, which Kao shows on screen, mentions the channel would give her credit when sharing her film. “They ended up posting it to their Facebook and Twitter page,” Kao says in her TikTok.

“One year after NowThis posts my short, Netflix puts out a short called Two Distant Strangers on April 9, 2021… it’s about a Black man who lives the same day over and over again and tries to survive a police interaction,” she says in her TikTok.

Two Distant Strangers has been directed by Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, distributed by Netflix and produced in association with companies Dirty Robber, NowThis and Six Feet Over. The film had received critical acclaim upon its release last year November and in April 2021, won an Oscar.

“I don’t know what happened, I’m not making any assumptions,” Kao ends her TikTok video saying.

Kao is a prominent award-winning short film director also known for other titles like If Men Had Periods It Wouldn’t Be Gross and Relationship Status. She currently works for Walt Disney TV Directing Program, as per her website bio.

Ever since her claims went viral, netizens have been outraging against NowThis for allegedly “ripping off” her work and passing it off as an original production. Comments under Two Distant Strangers on YouTube too have amassed multiple allegations against the short’s makers of “stealing” Kao’s idea.

Source: She The People

Nickelodeon pulls ‘Made By Maddie’ after social media users questioned the animated show’s similarities to Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning short ‘Hair Love’

Nickelodeon is pulling animated show Made by Maddie off its schedule in response to a controversy about similarities between its characters and those in the Oscar-winning short Hair Love.

The show had been set to premiere Sept. 13 on Nick Jr., the ViacomCBS network’s preschool channel. After Nickelodeon released a teaser for the show earlier in the week, the show drew criticism on social media for its characters’ resemblance to those in Hair Love, the short written and co-directed by Matthew A. Cherry that won the Oscar for best animated short earlier this year.

“Made by Maddie is a show we acquired several years ago from Silvergate Media, a renowned production company we have previously worked with on other series. Since announcing the show’s premiere date this week, we have been listening closely to the commentary, criticism and concern coming from both viewers and members of the creative community,” Nickelodeon said in a statement.

“In response, and out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show. We are grateful to Silvergate Media for all of their work. And we hold Matthew A. Cherry and the wonderful and inspiring Hair Love in the highest regard.”

Made by Maddie centers on an 8-year-old Black girl who uses her fashion sense and design skills to solve problems, along with the help of some friends and her parents, Dee and Rashad. Maddie frequently wears a pink headband in her hair, while Dee is depicted with natural hair and Rashad with locs. The families in both projects also have pet cats.

The mom and dad in Hair Love also have natural hair and locs, respectively, and the little girl, Zuri, also wears a pink headband. The similarities sparked a wave of criticism on social media, with users accusing Silvergate Media and Nickelodeon of copying Cherry’s work. Cherry hasn’t spoken on the matter but did retweet or reply to several posts calling out the resemblance, including the one below.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter