Pixar went underwater with “Finding Nemo”, into the toybox with “Toy Story” and now it’s going inside our brains with its latest, “Inside Out”.

The US animation studio, now part of the Disney empire, on Monday was presenting its latest cartoon feature at the Cannes Film Festival ahead of a June worldwide rollout expected to do big family box-office business.

The film delves into the imagination - literally - by portraying human emotions of Joy, Anger, Disgust and Sadness as distinct characters, who sit at the control panel in the mind “Headquarters” of a young girl, Riley. Her mindscape also features “cities” representing her main personality traits, and a maze-like memory bank.

Director Pete Docter (who also made the Pixar hits “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”) said the anthropomorphic approach came from watching his own 11-year-old daughter Elizabeth and wondering what was going on inside her head.

“Emotions are not really little people running around in your head - I hope that doesn’t spoil anything for anybody. But in the film they are and that’s a fairly good way of thinking about it,” he told AFP in an interview.

Producer Jonas Rivera added that the team thought: “We like to make movies that have emotion, why not make one about emotions, right?”

The English-language version of the picture features the voices of “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler, “Twin Peaks” actor Kyle MacLachlan and the ever-adaptable Hollywood actress Diane Lane.

Although not in the Cannes competition for the Palme d’Or, the official screening slot on the Riviera on Monday gives valuable and global media attention to the movie.

Other animations that have launched in Cannes in years past include “Up” from Pixar, and “Shrek” and “Shrek 2” from rival studio DreamWorks.

Pixar, founded by George Lucas and financed by late Apple boss Steve Jobs, made a big opening splash with “Toy Story” and went from strength to strength with “Monsters, Inc.”, “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles”.

In 2006, Disney bought the studio for $7.4 billion. Under the Mouse House, it came up with hits in the form of “Ratatouille”, “WALL-E”, “Up” and “Brave”.

But in recent years, it has been in danger of being overshadowed by Disney Animation Studios, which made the top-grossing animation of all time, “Frozen”.

Cannes, therefore, is a prestigious fillip for Pixar, and market watchers are seeing if “Inside Out” can succeed in maintaining its profile against the competition it faces - inside and out.

For Docter, being part of Disney is only positive. “Disney, you know, when they bought Pixar, they were like, ‘OK we paid a lot of money for these guys, we don’t want to break anything.’ And so far, it (the studio) really has remained autonomous.”