Michel Ocelot

Azur and Asmar, Director

Michel Ocelot was born on the French Riviera and spent his childhood in Guinea and his adolescence in the
Anjou region of France. After studying art, he learned about animated films by directing short films during his
vacations with a group of friends who each used different techniques (cartoons, puppets, etc.). Michel
Ocelot also enjoyed animating paper cut-out characters. He kept a taste for varied creations and pared-
down techniques. He directed the animated series, Les Aventures de Gédéon (1976, based on Benjamin
Rabier’s work), then used characters and backgrounds made with lacy paper in his first professional short
film, Les Trois Inventeurs (1979). This highly original film was rewarded with a BAFTA in London. Since this
film, Michel Ocelot has written the screenplays and done the artwork of all his creations. After this, came the
following short films: Les Filles de l’égalité (1981) which won the Special Jury Prize at the
Albi Festival, Beyond Oil (1982) and La Légende du Pauvre Bossu (1982 – César for Best Animated Film).
Michel Ocelot returned to the TV series format with La Princesse Insensible (1986) comprising 13 x 4-minute
episodes, and directed the short film Les Quatre Voeux (1987). His third series, Ciné Si, (1989 – 8 x 12-
minute episodes) was animated with the shadow theater technique: carefully cut-out black paper silhouettes.
Several of these sequences later appeared in Princes & Princesses (2000).

He wrote the 26-minute film, Les Contes de la nuit (1992), made up of three sequences, then embarked
upon the adventure of his first feature film. In 1998, the general public became aware of Michel Ocelot,
thanks to the huge box-office and critical success of Kirikou and the Sorceress. The film's popularity was so
great that it led Michel Ocelot to relate more of his little hero’s adventures in Kirikou and the Wild Beasts
(2005) which he co-directed with Bénédicte Galup.

Azur & Asmar, minutely prepared from 2001 on, is a project full of new experiences: Michel Ocelot worked
with a live-action producer (Christophe Rossignon, of Nord Ouest), chose to combine 3D and 2D, and
brought together his production and animation team in Paris, the town where he lives. Unlike most other
French animation productions, Azur & Asmar was made entirely in Paris.

Michel Ocelot was also President of the ASIFA (International Animated Film Association) from 1994 to 2000.