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Michel Ocelot Talks 'Dilili In Paris'

Journey to Paris in the early years of the 20th Century as Dilili In Paris, the new film from acclaimed animation director Michel Ocelot, arrives in the US this October. It follows Dilili, a young girl from a French South Pacific territory who teams up with a delivery boy called Orel to investigate a series of abductions committed by the dastardly Male Masters.

After exploring various cultures and eras in his past films such as Kirikou and The Sorceress and Tales Of The Night, director Michel Ocelot has finally made a film set in his native Paris. "With such cultural riches, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I can taste everything and I do," he says. "Paris is without doubt one of those extraordinary places that deserve to be glorified. Also, it’s where I live and I love it." He was also extra driven to celebrate the culture of Paris after his home city was hit by a wave of horrific terror attacks."It was an extra spur – one I could certainly have done without".

The film celebrates the French capital through its unique art style. 3D animated characters are placed against backgrounds that are created from genuine photographs of the city. The director took the photos himself across a period of four years. He was able to access many locations that are not normally accessible to the public. "It was amazing and wonderful," he says. "Paris opened its doors to me." The photos were then painted over to remove the trappings of the present and make them look as they would have in the era.

Ocelot chose to set the film in the Belle Époque, in the early 1900s pre-World War One. "I chose the Belle Époque because it was the last era where women wore floor-length dresses, a look that conjures dreams of princesses, queens and fairies." He also discovered that the era was home to many towering figures: artists, authors, scientists, Royals and more. Throughout the film more than a hundred such historical figures appear (either literally or throughout allusion). Ocelot notes "sometimes you need eagle eyes to spot them."

Despite the historical setting, Ocelot uses the film to explore some very contemporary issues. Both gender and race are very important to the film, despite being set in a time and place when white men dominated everything.  It's no mistake that the heroine is a woman of color- specifically, she is of mixed race, caught between cultures.

It's also something of a feminist fable, with Ocelot shining a light on how things have changed- and how some things haven't- for women and girls since the time of the film. The villainous Male Masters are a literal representation of the forces of oppression. It's also a plea to society to not turn our backs on the progress we've made since.

If this is all making it sound like a stuffy or overly worthy film, then you'd be wrong. This is first and foremost a fairytale adventure for all ages. With dastardly villains, plucky heroines, flying-machines and strange underground organizations it's a classic Jules Verne style romp. The fact that you might learn something about Early 1900s Europe is just the cherry on top! " I communicate everything that I’ve learned. I sow seeds aplenty. I have already seen some flourish" he says. "But of course, this is a show, first I tell a story, an adventure, with surprises, thrills and pleasures."

Dilili in Paris is released in the US in select theaters and on VOD by Samuel Goldwyn Films on October 4. Read our review here.

Screening Locations

LA - Laemmle Glendale

Dallas - La Gran Plaza Ft. Worth

Las Vegas - Galaxy Blvd

Boston - Apple

Cleveland - Tower City