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Jacques-Rémy Girerd • Director

"The subject of my work is this planet, which is not doing so well"


- The founder of Studio Folimage, Jacques-Rémy Girerd, presented his latest film, Aunt Hilda!, at the Anima Festival in Brussels

Jacques-Rémy Girerd  • Director

Following the success of A Cat in Paris [+see also:
film profile
, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, the French production company Studio Folimage is back with the imaginative Aunt Hilda! [+see also:
interview: Jacques-Rémy Girerd
film profile
, a natural, handmade and even “organic” work. Directed by Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Benoît Chieux, the film focuses on a nature-loving woman who is driven to do battle with a multinational food-processing firm. Girerd, the 62-year-old producer and founder of Studio Folimage, has decided that Aunt Hilda! will be his last film as a director. Cineuropa met up with him at Brussels’ Anima Festival.

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Cineuropa: The messages conveyed by Folimage’s films are often very clearly directed at adults. So why did you direct this film at children?
Jacques-Rémy Girerd: That’s an issue that is linked to the distributors – they decided that since it was an animated production, it would be a children’s film. In my opinion, the film is directed at everybody – not at the youngest children, but rather at the slightly older kids and adults. Two days ago, I attended a screening with around 100 other people in a movie theatre. Everyone there was an adult, and it went very well. However, there are different levels of language in the film that make it just as accessible to children. 

Do you think that today, animated productions are also intended to educate people?
Yes, I think that, unlike American cinema, which is pure "entertainment", movies are also a good way of growing up, acquiring knowledge and understanding the world around us – not just a way to have fun. For example, I really like Pixar, but I have the impression that it’s like a magnificent firework: once it dies out, it’s all over!

Did the film originally stem from criticism of any type?
It’s not really about criticism or messages. What I’m interested in is presenting situations that force us to react and ask ourselves questions. Personally, I don’t wish to say, “There you go – that’s how the world should work.” I don’t have any autocratic or prophetic kind of vision. My goal is to present situations that make us reflect on our world, through comedy. The subject of my work is this planet, which is not doing so well. 

Aunt Hilda! pays homage to nature, but also to everything that is still natural. What role do hand-drawn images play?
I think that in animation, 3D has followed in the footsteps of the cartoon. It’s too perfect, with a very smooth appearance, no bumps or roughness to it, well rounded… This drawing style is very reassuring, creates a lot of empathy with the audience and has been tried out in the United States, among other places. But it is standardised, always formatted and presented in the same way. We certainly like to see that at the cinema, but we don’t wish to offer it ourselves. What we’re interested in is graphic design, coming up with something new and original, starting totally from scratch... Otherwise, we wouldn’t be in this job. 

Does Folimage have any plans to go digital and stop using traditional drawings?
I think that digital technology is a tool. We rather tend to make films with hand-drawn images, but perhaps one day we will work with digital technology – but not in that smooth and conventional way. If we come across a project that suits digital, then we’ll do it. But with our tradition and our way of doing things, what we like is when a tool is used to stamp your own brand.

Why have you decided to make this film your last work as a director?
I didn’t plan for it to be my swan song. I’m 62, so I’m also thinking about handing over to someone else. At first, when I was young, I had a lot of trouble finding information, understanding how it all worked and learning everything. Now, I would like to encourage young people to get into this job.

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(Translated from French)

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