The cross : How do you imagine the main female characters in your films?
Michel Ocelot: Some characters that I imagine were feminine from the start, like Kirikou’s mother and the witch Karaba, or, in Azur and Asmar, the nurse Jénane and the little princess Shamsous-Sabbah. Others become like the little girl of Three inventors, my first film. It was first a boy, because I am a boy, and then I said to myself that we should also think about little girls.
→ READ. “Dilili in Paris”, the indignant fable of Michel Ocelot
My last heroine, Dilili, is in between. I first thought of a little boy, the son of an ambassador and extraordinarily multilingual. Then the defense of girls and women became my number one concern, and the hero became Dilili, the absolute girl, from birth. However, I was very careful that she was dressed neither in pink nor in blue, but in white with yellow ribbons.
Do you see an evolution in the way female characters are represented in the animated production?
M. O.: Yes, there is an increasing effort to give prominent roles to female characters. For my part, I always appreciated that humanity is made of men and women, without hierarchy in my spirit, and I practiced that in all my films.
Do you have the feeling that these heroines embody a model for little girls and also little boys?
M. O.: Oh yes ! An elderly lady said to me, ” How we needed this film when we were little! How we missed it! We were only entitled to bland princesses, dressed in pink. Dilili is always herself and quietly active wherever she is. She urges little girls not to let it go.
Are boys as interested in Dilili as girls? I do not know. In any case, Kirikou, who does not hide his sex from the whole film, has worked extraordinarily well with little girls, who have fully identified with him. This is one of the surprises this film made for me.
Do you wonder about the balance of relationships between male and female characters?
M. O.: I think about it all the time, actively. In Princes and princesses or Tales of the night, some characters became male because I did not want to favor any sex.
→ READ. Are girls and boys raised the same way?
However, I’m working on an Auvergne legend, which is a story of men, as in so many tales. I will not censor a good story that does not give a leading role to a woman, and vice versa. But rest assured, I added somewhere an idyll …
Will female characters play a key role in your next film?
M. O.: Yes. His name is Three tales for fun and integrate this Auvergne story, another from Egypt, the last one being an 18th century fantasye century in Ottoman costumes. The storyteller who will introduce each tale is a woman in blue overalls, which does not prevent her from having a chic scarf and a hairstyle “as she wants”. She comes from everywhere, like the people of our country.