Singaporean director Eric Khoo has been a fan of Japanese manga master Yoshihiro Tatsumi for decades, but when he picked up his autobiography, A Drifting Life, he knew he had to turn it into a film.

Fortunately he had a Japanese producer friend, Masato Yamamoto, who could write the ‘sensei’ a polite letter, sent with some of Khoo’s movies, to request a meeting.

“He appreciated My Magic very much, so we met in an old coffee shop in Tokyo with a translator and talked for four hours,” Khoo recalls.

“He has a great sense of humour and said, ‘If we put all my short stories together, don’t you think people will want to commit suicide after watching the film?’

I told him, ‘That’s why we also have to put in your life story.’”

The end result intercuts Tatsumi’s life with five of his dark and realistic short stories, all animated with a different colour palette and score. Tatsumi, who turns 76 this year and is “hugely excited” to be attending his first Cannes, was pleased with the results, though it took him a while to approve a voice talent to play his own mother.

Tatsumi is being sold by The Match Factory.