As part of the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF), I was recently invited to attend a virtual Q&A session with author, Kate DiCamillo, and director, Lena Khan, of Flora & Ulysses. Having already seen the movie, I was eager to learn more from the people who brought this creation to life.
Here are a few fun facts from the NYICFF Flora & Ulysses Q&A:
Q: What inspired you to write the book/movie?
Kate DiCamillo had a story about her mother’s vacuum cleaner and a squirrel she was determined to save on her front porch. Eventually, she came up with the idea of Flora & Ulysses.
Lena Khan was a huge fan of the story and loved how although it’s about broken people, it encourages you to get back up again.
Of course adaptations between the book and the movie were made. For example, the character of Phyllis is much more gentle in the book. In the film, she has additional dimensions.
Q: What message do you hope families will take away from Flora & Ulysses?
For author Kate DiCamillo, she hopes for people to walk away feeling uplifted and connected to these characters.
Q: How long did it take to cast Flora?
It took FOREVER to find the perfect lead character. Lena Khan says she thought she’d never find the perfect fit. However, once she met Matilda Lawler no one else could ever compare.
Q: Besides Ulysses, who is your favorite superhero?
Kate DiCamillo prefers old school comics, like Charlie Brown. Lena Khan likes Calvin & Hobbs, but also enjoys more traditional superheroes like X-Men and Wolverine.
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Although her friends tease her about it and say it’s creepy, Lena Khan says she’d choose to be invisible. Kate DiCamillo wishes she wasn’t such a worrier.
Q: If you could give advice to anyone wishing to pursue writing or directing, what would you say?
Kate suggests to read as much as you can, and to carry a notebook everywhere you go. She says to eavesdrop constantly, and said that people will tell strangers some pretty crazy things on airplanes. It’s a lot of work, so you need to be relentless, push hard, and never give up.
DISNEY+ FLORA & ULYSSES SYNOPSIS
Flora & Ulysses is based on the Newbery Award-winning book about 10-year-old Flora, an avid comic book fan and a self-avowed cynic, whose parents have recently separated. After rescuing a squirrel she names Ulysses, Flora is amazed to discover he possesses unique superhero powers, which take them on an adventure of humorous complications that ultimately change Flora’s life–and her outlook–forever.
You can stream Disney’s Flora & Ulysses exclusively on Disney+!
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