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Jacques-Remy Girerd, director of the upcoming ecological French feature Aunt Hilda! talks about animation and ecology -and admits that drawing Aunt Hilda gave him a headache.

jacques-remy-girerdThe new Folimage (A Cat in Paris) feature, Aunt Hilda! (Tante Hilda!) is a 2D animated ecological adenture. A 40-year-old nature lover (Aunt Hilda) tries passionately to preserve her plant museum from the cruel intentions of  Dolores, a business CEO who wants to dominate the market with her new, ecologically suspect fertilizer Attilem.

The feature, which premieres at the 2014 Berlinale is directed by Jacques-Remy Girerd and Benoit Chieux. Girerd talked to Variety about the upcoming film, and he passionately defended 2D animation:

 It's not that we're trying to be clever, or that we're backward. It's simply that this type of 2D animation gives us extraordinary graphic freedom. We love that.

Girerd talks eloquently of the problems he expectes to face by introducing feature animation films with a mature character. How can you make an environmental activist gentle, caring and at the same time ready to fight for the cause?

The dearth of such characters in animation does not work on his favor; Girerd admits that he had himself to fight with Aunt Hilda's characterization (voiced by Sabine Azema). But he also retorts:

It's not necessary to have a child-actor, or a little blue rabbit, or a funny little cat for young audiences to identify with things. Who made up that silly rule? It just isn't true. It's just a convenient formula, as far as I'm concerned. An adult can easily identify with things if a character is intelligently constructed. Aunt Hilda, who conserves much of her child's spirit (she talks to her plants, for instance) or Aldashin who still wears different colour socks, are characters that can allow us that identification. They are readily familiar to us, and also basically good people.

The ecological message of the film is also unusual for an animated feature, but still Girerd insists that he did not set out to make "a thesis film", but a comedy. Here's the appropriate trailer.

Aunt Hilda! is released in France on February, 12, 2014.