Three-time Grammy winner Cécile McLorin Salvant will team with French studio Miyu Productions and Belgian animator Lia Bertels on “Ogresse,” a wry and irreverent fairytale inspired by a narrative performance piece the musician has toured since 2019.
Described as a murder ballad set to a jazz tempo, the animated musical will hit tragicomic notes as it follows a forest-dwelling ogress, ostracized because of her physical difference and pursued by a young hunter determined to claim her heart in either love or combat. Salvant and Bertels — one a lauded vocalist and one a festival acclaimed auteur – will co-direct, marking their joint feature debut adapting the show for the big screen.
“‘Ogresse’ is a love story inspired by my own experiences,” says Cécile McLorin Salvant. “It explores self-love and beauty ideals with a brave, complex, sometimes cruel and always endearing heroine. It will be an eclectic, dense, rich, and genderless film that will poke fun at racist traditions in animation.”
“As soon as I heard the live recording, I knew we had to bring the Ogress to life,” adds Lia Bertels. “I’m excited to make my feature debut with a project that explores themes of ecology, prejudice, gender and love from a fresh point of view while trying to break the conventions of the films that shaped us.”
A MacArthur fellow and accomplished composer, Salvant pulled from folk, baroque, jazz and country music traditions when crafting an original performance that has played the Kennedy Center and the Paris Philharmonic in recent months. When developing this film adaptation with production partner John Carlin, the creator considered a different set of traditions – looking to subvert the oft-reflexive biases of storybook fantasies.
“We have overwhelming enthusiasm for this dreamlike musical that approaches questions of Black womanhood in such unique ways,” add Emmanuel-Alain Raynal and Pierre Baussaron of Miyu Productions. “The project fits perfectly with Miyu’s wider commitment to pair animation techniques with contemporary narratives.”
Founded by Emmanuel-Alain Raynal in 2009 and joined by Pierre Baussaron in 2015, Miyu has become one of France’s leading purveyors of sophisticated, adult-skewing animation. In recent years, the label grown to include production, sales and distribution arms, and now boasts studios in four French cities as well as a recently launched art gallery in Paris.
Last year, the Gallic studio won international acclaim with the Haruki Murakami adaptation “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” and launched a number of international co-productions, including the graphic novel adaptation “The Long Night,” to be made in partnership with L.A.-based Modern Magic.