French animator brings 3D magic to Berlin festival

Sun Feb 13, 2011 8:58am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - 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.   Continued...

<p>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. REUTERS/Christian Charisius</p>