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Michel Ocelot

The director of Competition entry Tales Of The Night talks about being an inventor, stereoscopic 3D and some audiences’ fear of breasts.

How did you get involved with this project?

I first began working on this 20 years ago. I initially did a few shorts, some of  which were released on TV. I went to Christophe Rossignon, the producer of Azur and Asmar, with those stories. He initially thought they were for TV but I said I wanted do film. I always want to do films. When he saw the first fairytale he agreed that it was for cinema. We reshot completely and some new stories were added.

Tell me about the film?

It’s a collection of fairy tales. It started a long time ago. It’s a celebration of storytelling and the world of showbusiness.  We start backstage. For each story there is a boy and a girl and an old technician and an old derelict cinema which looks abandoned but isn’t. They do what I do: they invent stories, they discuss, they draw they get into it, they do whatever they want with all the technology they want. And there’s even a curtain that opens!

Have you worked with stereoscopic 3D before?

Never, this was the first time. It was fun. I worked with good people, we enjoyed ourselves. It was a return to the old times. Though it’s supposed to be state of the art technology, I initially returned to the little puppets I used to use and I would animate under the camera, with the background on a piece of glass and the light underneath. It looks like paper theatre on a stage and that’s the way I wanted it.

Some territories had a problem with the nudity in Kirikou And The Sorceress. Do you anticipate similar issues with Tales Of The Night?

English speaking countries are scared by breasts. There are breasts in nearly all my films. When we showed Kirikou to the BBC they wouldn’t air it, not even at eleven at night. Nobody in the US wanted to release it. You never know with English speaking people. When I showed Azur et Asmar at Cannes two American journalists thought that it was a challenge to America. And yes, I’m afraid there is an African princess in Tales Of The Night who doesn’t wear a bra.

What does it mean to you to be in competition in Berlin?

I did not expect to be selected. It’s sensational to think that my honest little stories are among the best films in the world. It means a lot for a major festival to recognise my craft: animation. But my film is not only for kids. I don’t realise I’m doing an animation. I think of myself as a filmmaker.

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