STUDIO GHIBLI FILM RETROSPECTIVE Returns to NYC
Back by popular demand, the 25 YEARS OF STUDIO GHIBLI retrospective returns to the IFC Center in New York (323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street) from Friday, November 16 to Thursday, December 20, 2012.
GKIDS, a distributor of award winning animation for both adults and family audiences, is bringing a complete retrospective of films from Japan’s renowned Studio Ghibli to The run features new 35mm prints of all fifteen Studio Ghibli feature films produced between 1984 and 2009, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award winning SPIRITED AWAY, PRINCESS MONONOKE, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, CASTLE IN THE SKY, PONYO, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, and KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE. Films will be presented in both subtitled and English language versions (where available), with subtitled versions playing 6pm and later. (See below for a complete list of titles.)
Week One tickets are on sale now at gkids.tv/intheaters.
NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND
Hayao Miyazaki, 1984, 116 Minutes
The debut film from Hayao Miyazaki, NAUSICAA is considered by many to be his masterwork — and there are few films, animated or otherwise, of such sweeping scope and grandeur. Set in a devastated future world decimated by atmospheric poisons and swarming with gigantic insects, NAUSICAA is the story of a young princess, both brave and innocent, whose love for all living things and passionate determination to understand the processes of nature lead her into terrible danger, sacrifice, and eventual triumph.
Like most Studio Ghibli films, there is neither good nor evil, but conflicting viewpoints, weaknesses, and power struggles. Throughout the film, Miyazaki’s animation is awe-inspiring; the depiction of the poisoned forest in particular is a thing of transcendent beauty. Once the hallucinogenic strangeness of shape and color has been accepted, there is light, growth and life everywhere. Huge dragonfly-like creatures are accompanied by wonderful, evocative sounds of flight and movement. The lethal fungus plants glow, shimmer and shed spores like silent gleaming snowfalls. This is a film not to be missed.
CASTLE IN THE SKY
Hayao Miyazaki, 1986, 124 Minutes
A young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant falls out of the sky and into the arms and life of young Pazu. Together they search for a floating island in the sky, site of a long-dead civilization promising enormous wealth and power to those who can unlock its secrets.
CASTLE IN THE SKY is an early masterpiece of storytelling and filmmaking whose imaginative and ornately detailed vision presaged later films like PRINCESS MONONOKE and SPIRITED AWAY.
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
Hayao Miyazaki, 1988, 86 Minutes
One of the most endearing and internationally renowned films of all time, a film that Roger Ebert called “one of the five best movies” ever made for children, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is a deceptively simple tale of two girls, Satsuki and Mei, who move with their father to a new house in the countryside. They soon discover that the surrounding forests are home to a family of Totoros, gentle but powerful creatures who live in a huge and ancient camphor tree and are seen only by children. Based on Miyazaki’s own childhood imaginings, Totoros look like oversized pandas with bunny ears and they take the girls on spinning-top rides through the tree tops and introduce them to a furry, multi-pawed Catbus — a nod to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat.
But beneath the film’s playfulness and narrative simplicity lie depths of wisdom. As with much of Miyazaki’s work, at its core MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is about human-kind’s relationship to the Earth. The film is infused with an almost spiritual reverence for the power of nature (a philosophy tied to the ancient Shinto belief that every object in nature has a soul). Everything that surrounds us, from light-dappled tree groves, to the marvelous clouds, echoes the density and lusciousness of life. Protected by the Totoros, we know no harm will come to our two heroines in the forest’s sunlit glades and mysterious shadows. The girls may be awed by the power and majesty around them but they understand instinctively that nature has no malice. The viewer is left with a sense of wonder at the beauty, mystery and preciousness of the world all around us.
KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
Hayao Miyazaki, 1989, 102 Minutes
From the legendary Hayao Miyazaki comes the beloved story of a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and set out into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her life journey with her chatty black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a sea-side village, where a bakery owner hires her to make deliveries. Rarely has the animator’s art been so brilliantly rendered as in this delightfully imaginative film – a beautiful and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world.
Isao Takahata, 1991, 118 Minutes
Realizing that she is at a crossroads in her life, bored twenty-something Taeko heads for the countryside. The trip dredges up forgotten childhood memories which unfold in flashback to younger years: the first immature stirrings of romance, the onset of puberty, and the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self.
Directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki, Only Yesterday is a double period piece that beautifully evokes both the 1960s and 1980s, and the quintessential drama of Japanese school-day nostalgia. Studio Ghibli is known for its female heroines, from Princesses Nausicaa and Mononoke, to Kiki, to Ponyo – but with Only Yesterday they delve deeper into the real emotional experiences of girls/women than perhaps any animated film before or since.
Hayao Miyazaki, 1992, 94 Minutes
This unsung treasure from Hayao Miyazaki nestles a tale of morality and identity inside a soaring airborne adventure — a tribute to early aviation and the reckless flyboys whose home was the open sky.
Set in a mid-war Italy swept by fascism, the film follows the life of Marco, a world-weary flying ace-turned bounty hunter who plies his trade above the waters of the Adriatic. Somewhere along the way a curse has transformed Marco’s head into the head of a pig, reflecting his loss of faith in humanity. Marco meets his polar opposite in the innocent and energetic 17-year-old Fio, an aspiring airplane designer, and the two are catapulted into an airborne adventure pursued by air pirates, the Italian army, and an egotistical American flying ace.
Miyazaki fans will be familiar with the writer/director’s fascination with flight; in this film, Miyazaki indulges his passion to the fullest. An avid aviation buff, Miyazaki’s airplane designs conform scrupulously to the technology of the period. But most impressive are the exhilarating aerial scenes: sweeping panoramas of wind, cloud, smoke and water and the breathtaking feeling of soaring though the air in an open cockpit.
Isao Takahata, 1994, 119 Minutes
In this brilliant and often overlooked Studio Ghibli masterpiece, the forests are filled with groups of magical tanuki, mischievous raccoon-like animals from Japanese folklore that are capable of shape-shifting from their standard raccoon form to practically any object.
The tanuki spend their days playing idly in the hillsides and squabbling over food — until the construction of a huge new Tokyo suburb clears the nearby forest and threatens their way of life. In an effort to defend their home, the tanuki learn to transform into humans and start playing tricks to make the workers think the construction site is haunted, ending in a spectacular night-time spirit parade, with thousands of ghosts, dragons and other magical creatures descending on the city — in an abundance of fantastical characters that would not be matched on screen by Studio Ghibli until SPIRITED AWAY.
WHISPER OF THE HEART
Yoshifumi Kondo, 1995, 111 Minutes
Shizuku is spending her last summer vacation before high school reading and translating foreign music into Japanese. Perusing the eclectic selection of books she has checked out from the library, her curiousity is piqued when she notices that the name Seiji appears before hers on the checkout card of each one. Through a series of curious and magical incidents, she comes to meet and establishes a connection to Seiji – who has dreams of becoming a famous violinmaker in Italy, while she has aspirations of becoming a writer. As their life goals pull them in different directions, Shizuku and Seiji are determined to remain true to their feelings for one another.
A masterpiece about the awakening of creative talent, Whisper of the Heart was the first and only full-length feature by Hayao Miyazaki’s protégé Yoshifumi Kondo before his sudden death at the young age of 47. It remains one of the classics of Japanese animation.
Tomomi Mochizuki, 1995, 72 Minutes
Rarely seen outside of Japan, OCEAN WAVES is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships.
OCEAN WAVES was the first Studio Ghibli film directed by someone other than studio founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as director Tomomi Mochizuki led a talented staff of younger employees in an adaptation of Saeko Himuro’s best-selling novel. Full of shots bathed in a palette of pleasingly soft pastel colors and rich in the unexpected visual details typical of Studio Ghibli’s most revered works, OCEAN WAVES is an accomplished teenage drama and a true discovery.
Hayao Miyazaki, 1997, 134 Minutes
PRINCESS MONONOKE is a landmark of animation and a film of unsurpassed power and beauty. An epic story of conflict between humans, gods, and nature, the film has been universally acclaimed by critics and broke the box office record on its original release in Japan.
While defending his village from a demonic boar-god, the young warrior Ashitaka becomes afflicted with a curse that grants him super-human power in battle but will eventually take his life. Traveling west to find a cure or meet his destiny, he journeys deep into sacred depths of the Great Forest where he meets San (Princess Mononoke), a girl raised by wolf-gods who is waging battle against the human outpost of Iron Town, on the edge of the forest. The girl Mononoke a force of nature – with blood smeared lips, riding bareback on a great white wolf, doing battle with both gods and humans, she is as iconic a figure as any from film, literature, or opera.
MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS
Isao Takahata, 1999, 104 Minutes
In a break from the frequently mythical storytelling of Studio Ghibli, director Isao Takahata wryly tweaks the everyday activities of family life with his depiction of the irresponsible, slovenly, and lazy Yamada family and their unassuming way of life. With cartoon-like characters and visual design unlike anything else in the Ghibli canon, the film is illustrated in a series of rough sketches and outlines, which are then filled with soft colors that evoke watercolor painting.
Hayao Miyazaki, 2001, 125 Minutes
Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece SPIRITED AWAY was the biggest box office hit of all time in Japan and a film that helped redefine the possibilities of animation for American audiences and a generation of new filmmakers.
Wandering through an abandoned carnival site, ten-year-old Chichiro is separated from her parents and stumbles into a dream-like spirit world where she is put to work in a bathhouse for the gods, a place where all kinds of nonhuman beings come to refresh, relax and recharge. Here she encounters a vast menagerie of impossibly inventive characters — shape-shifting phantoms and spirits, some friendly, some less so — and must find the inner strength to outsmart her captors and return to her family. Combining Japanese mythology with Through the Looking Glass-type whimsy, SPIRITED AWAY cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of inspired animation and wondrous, lyrical storytelling.
THE CAT RETURNS
Hiroyuki Morita, 2002, 75 Minutes
In this sequel to WHISPER OF THE HEART, a quiet suburban schoolgirl, Haru, is pitched into a fantastical feline world and must find her inner strength to make her way back home. Walking with her friend after a dreary day at school, Haru eyes a cat with a small gift box in its mouth attempting to cross a busy street. The cat fumbles the package in the middle of the road as a truck is rapidly bearing down. Haru manages to scoop the cat away to safety. To her amazement, the cat then gets up on its hind legs, brushes itself off, and thanks her very politely.
Strange behavior indeed, but this is nothing compared to what happens later that evening when the King of Cats shows up in a feline motorcade replete with vassals, maidens, and even Secret Service cats. In a show of gratitude for saving his son’s life, the king cat showers Haru with gifts — including a large supply of individually wrapped live mice – and decrees that she shall marry the cat prince and come to live as a princess in the secret Kingdom of Cats.
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE
Hayao Miyazaki, 2005, 114 Minutes
Sophie, an average teenage girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. But after this chance meeting, the young girl is turned into a 90-year old woman by the vain and conniving Witch of the Waste.
Embarking on an incredible adventure to lift the curse, she finds refuge in Howl’s magical moving castle. As the true power of Howl’s wizardry is revealed, and his relationship with Sophie deepens, our young grey heroine finds herself fighting to protect them both from a dangerous war of sorcery that threatens their world. HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE was the second Studio Ghibli film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.
Hayao Miyazaki, 2009, 101 Minutes
Perfect for audiences of all ages, PONYO centers on the friendship between five-year-old Sosuke and a magical goldfish named Ponyo, the young daughter of a sorcerer father and a sea-goddess mother. After a chance encounter, Ponyo yearns to become a human so she can be with Sosuke. As to be expected with Miyazaki, the film is awash in pure unbridled imagination and visual wonder — but it is the tender love, humor, and devotion exhibited by Ponyo and Sosuke that form the emotional heart of the film.
About Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and is one of the most successful and well-respected animation studios in the world. Cultivating a creative force of talented directors, animators, and storytellers under the revered brilliance of Miyazaki and Takahata, Studio Ghibli’s films have been praised for their originality, dazzling animation, and epic storytelling. The films have become a beloved part of Japanese popular culture, and have garnered worldwide acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Hayao Miyazaki’s SPIRITED AWAY won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002 and in 2005 Miyazaki was named one of “the most influential people” by Time Magazine.
GKIDS is a distributor of award-winning animation for both adult and family audiences. Theatrical releases include Tomm Moore’s Oscar nominated THE SECRET OF KELLS, Michel Ocelot’s acclaimed AZUR & ASMAR, European Film Award Best Animated Feature winner MIA AND THE MIGOO, Nina Paley’s multiple-award-winning SITA SINGS THE BLUES, and Japan Academy Prize winner SUMMER WARS by Mamoru Hosoda. Upcoming GKIDS releases include 2011 Berlin official selection A CAT IN PARIS and Annecy winner ELEANOR’S SECRET. GKIDS is also producer of New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival, North America’s largest festival of film for children and teens. NYICFF is an Oscar-qualifying event and jury members include Uma Thurman, Susan Sarandon, Gus van Sant, Matthew Modine, James Schamus, Michel Ocelot, and Christine Vachon.