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Feature Film

Azur and Asmar Picked Up By Weinstein Co.

Azur and Asmar

Twitch Film is reporting that the Weinstein Company has picked up Michel Ocelot’s French feature Azur and Asmar for distribution. As we’ve reported earlier, the fledgling Weinstein Co. has not had a particularly inspiring track record with animated films. Ocelot’s film, which premiered at Cannes last year to rave reviews, is the Weinstein’s first decent pick-up. There’s reason to fear though: among other adult touches, Azur and Asmar features a woman breastfeeding her children and has unsubtitled sequences with characters speaking Arabic. Knowing the amount of respect that the Weinsteins have for the animation art, a good probability exists that there’ll be substantial changes to Ocelot’s vision before the film reaches American audiences. I’d love to be proven wrong on this one.

  • Aaron

    They have no respect for any kind of film-making whatsoever: live action or animated.

  • It’s unfortunate that some think it inappropriate for audiences to see things adult and natural like breastfeeding, particularly in animation. I hate for things to get cut from films just to satisfy a particular viewing audience regardless of what it may be and hope this film survives.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    They’ll gonna pull another “Light Years” on us, I just know it! :-(

  • The last movie I saw from Ocelot was Kirikou and the Sorceress, which is my favorite animated movie of all time. If Weinstein screws this up, I’ll be really sad.

  • Since Disney laid its 2D department to rest I think the entire medium can be unchained from the rule of having to appeal only to family. 2D has an opportunity to reinvent itself and appeal to a broader range of audiences now. I hope the Weinsteins realize that and don’t touch anything in this film.

  • Esn

    Considering that there hasn’t been a single foreign animated film release that they HAVEN’T screwed up throughout their whole history, I think that the chances of them handling this one correctly are pretty much nil.

    Sorry “Azur and Asmar”… it was nice knowing you.

    Let’s not forget that this is the same company that lied to retailers about releasing a widescreen “special edition DVD” of The Thief and the Cobbler, and instead released a repackaged version of their original whitewashed, cut-up, pan-and-scan version.

    I hope that Ocelot’s original film will eventually be released with English subtitles, though – that’s all we can really hope for.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I wish we had another Streamline Pictures.

    For anyone who wondered what “Light Years” was I was referring to earlier…

    I think the one thing the Weinsteins ever did animation-related that wasn’t a complete screw-up, was importing this little known Spanish cartoon based on the book by Rein Poortvielt and Wil Huygen…

  • progosk

    this might sound silly, but both the breastfeeding and the unsubtitled arabic are actually pivotal to the story. ok, apparently we europeans have a totally alien weltanschauung, but it just rings ridiculous that anyone would even think of censoring something as wholesome as breastfeeding.
    i so hope you’ll all get a chance to be mesmerised as we and our kids were by this great movie. (oh, and ocelot’s princes and princesses is also fantastic.)

  • What’s adult about breastfeeding? It’s sort of innately non-adult, I’d say.

  • Erock

    I have it on very good faith that the Weinsteins have promised not to touch a thing on this movie. Harvey himself made that promise as he realizes it’s a work of art not to be tampered with. If he goes back on this promise, it will be an extreme disappointment. But at the moment, rest assured, Azur and Asmar will remain untouched….though they might discuss dubbing just the French into English, leaving the Arabic untranslated as is.

  • Princes et princesses is my favourite. I’m trying to collect information on the film for my fan site (click on my name above to see it) but it’s all a bit vague and I would probably be better off working on the other sections first (but then again, Ocelot’s past is vaguer still – there’s not information or stills anywhere on the internet for most of his early short films). Soda Pictures are releasing it in the UK (probably in December now, rather than October) and there will be the original French & Arabic version as well as a new English & Arabic dub. By the sound of it, it may be a British dub (as was the case with Kirikou) but I don’t know whether there will be an American dub in addition to this. I would probably have to e-mail the Weinstein Co. for that.

  • Something finally seems to have a come of this, as an NTSC DVD of the film is up for pre-order on which claims to be from the Weinstein Company.

  • Lang

    I have seen this movie and it a beautiful piece of art! I have pick up in our Public Library in Spain and watched with my daughter. We both loved the animation, the story as well as the terrific backgrounds.

    It is amazing that people would not see it because of a natural breastfeeding scene. Feel sad for some overreacted American prejudices which turn the natural into absurd morality issue.