CANNES Q&A: ‘Tatsumi’ Director Eric Khoo
Cannes veteran Eric Khoo’s first animated feature, Tatsumi, is a tribute to Japanese animator Yoshihiro Tatsumi, borrowing five “really dark and sad” stories from the artist’s award winning autobiography. Set to unspool in Un Certain Regard as the seminal illustrator from Osaka approaches 76 years old, Tatsumi is a birthday gift from Khoo, produced for US$800,000.
Interweaving Tatsumi’s stories with snippets about his youth in post-WWII Japan taken from the autobiography, A Drifting Life, the animated film could help introduce a whole new audience to the gekiga (dramatic pictures) style Tatsumi developed in the late 1950s – a style that would shape comics in his homeland, and around the world, for decades to come. As he prepared to accompany his “sensei” to Cannes, Singaporean Khoo talked with The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Landreth.
The Hollywood Reporter: What’s it like to be going back to Cannes?
Eric Khoo: Tatsumi is my first animated film. Initially, there were teething problems and I wasn’t sure what would come of it. We were exploring a new technique. It’s not the conventional Pixar look that’s become familiar. It’s going back to 1950s charming animation. How would we take Tatsumi’s old animation and refresh it?
We made the film as a tribute film and I wanted the film to go to Cannes from the beginning, but I wasn’t sure it could happen. So, it was incredible when I got the news. When my Japanese producer told Tatsumi the news, he was so happy and said it was a dream come true. He’d dreamed as a boy in the 1950s of being a filmmaker.