Michel Ocelot: “Everywhere, and from time immemorial, men have behaved badly with women”

Dilili in Paris opened the Annecy Festival in 2018. Michel Ocelot was kind enough to tell us about it.

June 21, 2020 update: The 60th Annecy animation festival is underway, and will run until June 30. On this occasion, First dive into its archives to share captivating interviews with renowned animators and directors. During the 2018 edition, the creator of Kirikou (big crystal winner in 1998) answered our questions during the presentation of Dilili in Paris.

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Meeting of June 11, 2018: It was therefore necessary to wait twelve years to see a new feature film by Michel OcelotTales of the night and Kirikou and Men and Women were short compilations. Twelve years to match, perhaps, the splendor ofAzur and Asmar. In Dilili in Paris, the director of Kirikou and the Witch stages a Kanake child who is investigating mysterious disappearances in the Paris of the Belle Époque. The first images suggest the best.

How was this Dilili born?

I first wanted to locate the action in Paris, during the Belle Epoque. Then, I realized that people were whitish at the time. Was I going to make a film where there were only whitish people? (laughs) I would have been disappointed as well as part of my audience. It took the color brought by Dilili, a mixed race girl who escapes from one of the indigenous villages reconstituted at the time in public parks. She understands and speaks French because I discovered that the anarchist Louise Michel, deported to New Caledonia, had learned, on the spot, to read and write to children. Dilili can investigate the kidnapping of little girls.

Is this a film about the status of women?

Everywhere, and always, men have behaved badly with women. It kills more than wars. It’s daily and sometimes when you don’t die it’s worse. This is an important thing that I wanted to address. In counterpoint, I also wanted to evoke the benefits of Western civilization, in particular in Paris, at a particularly open and creative time, with men and women living in harmony.

Kirikou and men and women: Michel Ocelot confirms his exceptional storytelling talent

I imagine that this period, when Art Nouveau and the elegant women’s toilets flourished in particular, suited your universe perfectly?

It was good to show this artistic trend which lasted a very short time and which was innovative. I really enjoyed playing with colors and materials.

How does this translate visually?

As the city of Paris is beautiful, I did not do it again, I photographed it. The characters are animated in sets in real views. Everything you see exists.

What does the Annecy Festival represent for you?

Annecy is a sacred place for me even if, for twenty years, I have not had the opportunity to spend a full week there. I look forward to it this year.

The Festival pays tribute this year to your friend Isao Takahata. Any word on this great animation?

It is a dream for me to have been able to collaborate with such a master -Takahata adapted Japanese films from Ocelot, editor’s note. We saw each other as soon as he came to France, whom he adored. We were mainly talking about life … His films are all discreet and we don’t perceive their audacity right away. I think it will last as long as his great friend, Miyazaki.

Tales of the night: the new magic of the creator of Kirikou

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