One fascinating film you shouldn't miss is French master Michel Ocelot's latest directorial outing Dilili in Paris, which scooped Best Animated Film at the Cesar Awards — the French equivalent of the Oscars — earlier this year.
The 76-year-old auteur Michel Ocelot recently visited Beijing, where China Daily had a chance to interview the easy-going artist.
Told from the perspective of a child, a method Ocelot often adopts, the story sees Dilili, a 6-year-old girl from New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific, team up with a delivery boy to probe a string of mysterious child kidnappings in the French capital.
During their investigations, the amateur detective duo meets more than 60 cultural figures and scientists of the time, from Nobel laureate Marie Curie to novelist Marcel Proust to biologist Louis Pasteur.
Before watching the movie, it's helpful to understand its backdrop, especially the period known as the Belle Epoque. A term coined in France, it literally means "beautiful age" and refers to the period from roughly the end of the Franco-Prussian War (1871) to the start of World War I (1914). It was a golden and peaceful era in Europe that saw the emergence of a number of household greats.
Of all the famous names in Paris, Emma Calve, the French operatic soprano famed for performing the lead in Georges Bizet's Carmen, plays a key role in helping Dilili and delivery boy Orel on their mission. The scene where she accompanies the duo to take a swan boat ride was so beautiful that it nearly took my breath away, while the last sequence showing her rescue all the kidnapped girls in a giant airship was spectacular.
Ocelot told China Daily: "I chose the year 1900 as the setting for my film, as I believe it was a beautiful era that saw many of the world's finest and most talented artists and scientists gather in Paris. Despite having all passed away, their legacy will benefit humankind now and forever."
As the former president of the International Animated Film Association, Ocelot says he has long held a strong interest in Chinese animation, especially Shanghai Animation Film Studio's classics, such as Three Monks and Little Tadpoles in Search of Their Mother.
Chinese culture has also become his new source of artistic inspiration, reveals the director, who is planning to make the 15-minute animated flick A Dream Lover, inspired by his visit a few years ago to see the ancient architecture in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. The Chinese story will be about the daughter of a pharmacy owner.