Vancouver Hosts Major Studio Ghibli Animation Retrospective

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Studio Ghibli

The Cinematheque and the Vancity Theatre, both located in downtown Vancouver, are co-hosting a major retrospective of the films of Studio Ghibli, the world-renowned anime studio founded in Tokyo in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki.

The Cinematheque presentation includes two rare titles —  Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) and Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves) never released in North America before. All Ghibli films (with the exception of The Ocean Waves) will be presented in new 35mm prints.

Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli runs from December 7 to 9, 12 to 17, 22 to 23 and 26 to 30, as well as January 2 to 3.

Frequently referred to as the Disney of Japan, Studio Ghibli (pronounced “jib-lee” or “gee-buh-lee”) is known for startlingly original animated feature films that combine dazzling visual virtuosity, vivid characterizations and epic storytelling. These include some of the most magical, most beloved animated movies ever made, including Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Ghibli’s warm, intelligent, poetic films, often full of great flights of fancy that borrow from fairytale, folklore and science fiction, are always grounded in a deeply-felt humanism that embraces family and community and believes in essential human goodness (despite considerable evidence of human folly), and in a deep concern for the environment and our relationship with nature. They typically feature strong female protagonists. Ghibli films, it is also worth noting, are still primarily (and lovingly) crafted the traditional way, through the labor-intensive, hand-drawn, frame-by-frame technique of cel animation.

Here’s what’s scheduled:

Kaze No Tani No Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
Miyazaki’s debut is considered by many to be his masterwork. There are few films, animated or otherwise, of such sweeping scope and grandeur.

Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky)
Miyazaki’s first Studio Ghibli feature is this beautiful, exhilarating eco-fantasy adventure of a young boy and girl searching for a long-lost floating island in the sky.

Majo No Takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Kiki is a young witch-in-training; her best friend is Jiji, a chatty, wisecracking black cat in this beautiful, timeless and beloved story of a young girl finding her way in the world.

Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves)
RARE GHIBLI! Rarely seen outside of Japan — never released in North America in any format — this subtle, poignant story of adolescence and teenage isolation is a true discovery.

Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
Miyazaki’s most endearing, most beloved and most iconic film tells the touching tale of two sisters who discover a forest full of spirits and magical creatures next to their new home.

Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
Miyazaki’s epic story of conflict between humans, gods and nature is a landmark of animation and a film of unsurpassed power and beauty with an environmental message.

Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle)
When a shy teenager is cursed by the jealous Witch of the Waste, she seeks refuge with a handsome wizard named Howl in his magical moving castle while they fight to lift the spell.

Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
This Academy Award-winning film was Japan’s biggest box-office hit of all time, and cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of inspired animation and wondrous, lyrical storytelling.

Mimi O Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)
A visually stunning wonder about the awakening of creative talent, this is the sole feature directed by Miyazaki’s protégé Yoshifumi Kondô before his sudden death at the age of 47.

Neko No Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns)
Walking home after a dreary day at school, Haru saves a cat from being hit by a speeding truck. Little does she know that she is about to be plunged into into a fantastical feline world…

Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (The Raccoon War)
The forest home of the deceptively cuddly tanuki — a group of magical raccoon-like creatures — is threatened by the construction of a new suburb. Now, they must fight to save it.

Kurenai No Buta (Porco Rosso)
This tribute to early aviation is set between the World Wars in Fascist Italy, where flying ace Marco — cursed with the head of a pig — and beautiful Fio are catapulted into high-flying conflict.

Omohide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday)
RARE GHIBLI! Never released in North America, this tale of self-discovery may delve deeper into the real emotional experiences of women than any animated film before or since.

Hôhokekyo Tonari No Yamadâkun (My Neighbors the Yamadas)
This delightfully offbeat, rarely-seen gem was the first Ghibli film to be created entirely on computers in order to achieve its soft watercolor look.

All Ghibli films presented at The Cinematheque will screen in the original Japanese-language versions with English subtitles.

All Ghibli films presented at the Vancity Theatre will screen in the English-dubbed versions.

All ages are welcome! The Cinematheque welcomes all ages to this family-friendly presentation of the films of Studio Ghibli. All films in the series are rated G or PG (with the exception of Princess Mononoke and The Ocean Waves, which are 14A — under 14 requires adult accompaniment).

Remember that all The Cinematheque’s Ghibli screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles! Membership is required for those 18 or over.

Pacific Cinémathèque is grateful to Dave Jesteadt and GKIDS (New York) and Tom Charity of Vancity Theatre (Vancouver) for their great assistance in making this presentation possible. Program notes are by (or adapted from) GKIDS, except where otherwise noted.

For links to the individual films and their showtimes, visit

Scene from Umi Ga Kikoeru (Ocean Waves), never released in North America theatrically or on any home viewing format.

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