French animator brings 3D magic to Berlin festival

Updated: 2011-02-14 07:57


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French animator brings 3D magic to Berlin festival

Director Michel Ocelot attends a news conference to promote his movie 'Les contes de la Nuit' (Tales of the Night) at the 61st Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 13, 2011. The Berlinale International Film Festival runs from February 10 to 20, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

French animator Michel Ocelot sprinkled some fairy dust over the Berlin film festival on Sunday with "Tales of the Night," old stories retold using both century-old silhouette techniques and state-of-the-art 3D.

Organizers said it was the first 3D animation movie to be included in the main competition lineup at the annual festival, which has made Sunday its unofficial 3D day.

German directors Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders are also in town showing their new 3D documentaries, though neither is eligible for awards when the festival winds up on February 19.

Tales of the Night ("Les Contes de la Nuit) is set in a dilapidated cinema, which a boy, a girl and a man use at night to re-stage old fairy tales.

From the opening "The Werewolf" to the closing "The Doe-girl and the Architect's Son," the short stories share common themes of love conquering all and children overcoming the odds.

They are told using old-fashioned silhouette techniques, so blacked-out, puppet-style characters in profile provide movement against backdrops of intense color and detail.

The contrast is exaggerated by the use of stereoscopic 3D, giving the same impression of layering and depth as real theatrical backdrops, and scenery is inspired by sources ranging from Russian painter Nicholas Roerich to medieval drawings.

"For me this new stereoscopic 3D is just a tool," Ocelot told reporters after a press screening at which the movie was warmly applauded. "It's not that important.

"It's interesting to have new tools, but in 'Garcon Tam-Tam' it's not his tam-tam (drum) which is magical, it's his hands," he added, referring to one of the fairy tales in the film.


Ocelot said his style owed much to German filmmaker Lotte Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette in cinema who began working on movies nearly 100 years ago.

After seeing a Reiniger film, the French director said he asked a children's workshop he was leading to try to make its own silhouette film, an idea which met with spectacular success.

"I said, well, that's it, I have found my method, I'm going to use these silhouettes," he said.

"It was 20 years ago and I've been doing these things since then. So thanks to Lotte!"

He said he had no other aim in making films than to enjoy himself and create something audiences enjoy.

"Fairy tales are my language, all fairy tales from any part of the planet," he said. "I like swimming happily in them."

Asked if he felt the stories in Tales of the Night portrayed the hero more positively than the heroine, he replied:

"There will be other stories in the future, but in everything I do I attempt to be fair and respect equality. Perhaps there's an imbalance, and if that is the case here, I'm horrified, I have to say."

Ocelot has said he planned to make a sequel to his "Kirikou" series as well as a new story set in Paris in 1900. Tales of the Night is due in French theatres in July.



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