Morocco in Michel Ocelot’s upcoming animated feature film

Award-winning French writer-director talks about his style, defence of women’s rights and upcoming film on the sidelines of the Meknes International Festival of Animated Cinema.

MEKNES - Award-winning French writer-director Michel Ocelot is working on an animated feature film that involves Morocco and Turkey.

“I can tell you that the starting point is Morocco. It’s about an era of the 18th century that depicts tales reunited by a female doctor who has been listening to tales orated by female storytellers in the palaces where she has been working,” said Ocelot on the sidelines of the Meknes International Festival of Animated Cinema.

Ocelot is an autodidact who has devoted his whole career to animated cinema. The public discovered his talent in 1998 thanks to his successful first feature film “Kirikou and the Sorceress.”

Last month, Michel Ocelot was awarded the César for Best Animated Feature for his film “Dilili in Paris” at the 44th ceremony of the French awards.

It is the second César award for the French animator after being awarded in 1983 for his film “The Legend of the Poor Hunchback.” 

The French animator stressed that cinema is powerful as it is a source of inspiration.

“The guy who committed the massacre in New Zealand did a cinema. The cult of weapons is also a cinema art. I’m sure that when we make a violent movie, it inspires people to kill,” said Ocelot.

“However, people become noble when they watch a movie with noble attitudes,” he added.

'Kirikou and the Sorceress' creator is a man of perfection even when it comes to dubbing his movies in other languages.

“Dubbing is a difficult task to achieve. All translations add words, which is stunning! However, we manage to do a good translation by working hard on it while synchronising the moves to end up with a good dubbing,” he said.

Ocelot avidly defends women’s rights in his daring movies despite sometimes causing him problems with the US distributors after his films are showcased in cinemas.

“After seeing the trailer, US distributors say no because they simply think that I’m crazy and that they will no show them because they are not politically correct,” he said.

His latest feature film “Dilili in Paris” depicts the exploitation of women and their slavery during la Belle Epoque as he evokes the icons of the French cultural, artistic and medical history.

An underworld secret society known as the Master-Men has been kidnapping young girls throughout the City of Light to make them slaves for men until Dilili and her friends manage to free them.

“What bad men do to women is worse than wars. We should talk about these taboos,” he said.

Ocelot said that the animated cinema in Morocco has to have an international appeal in order to be successful in the future.

“The danger is to try to sell Moroccan animated cinema abroad and lose the identity.  You have to be both Moroccan and international,” he said, adding that the main thing is to make a movie that can be understood universally in order to have a wider audience.