The Belcourt Theatre presents Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli, a film retrospective of the renowned Japanese animation studio from tonight, June 1 through June 13. In addition to the series' 15 animated films, the Belcourt will also feature Studio Ghibli's most recent release, THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETY.
Founded in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli is a well respected animation studio, creating films known for their originality, animation and storytelling. The family-friendly series features new 35mm prints of popular films including the enchanting MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, Academy Award-winning SPIRITED AWAY, and CASTLE IN THE SKY, a film recognized by many as an influence on James Cameron's AVATAR. Lesser-known but equally magical films are also featured, including POM POKO, an action-filled ecological fable, and the sentimental journey ONLY YESTERDAY, among others. To accommodate families with small children, the Belcourt has schedulEd English language-dubbed versions of most films in mornings and afternoons, while English-subtitled versions will screen during evening/night hours. The Belcourt's website, www.belcourt.org, provides a complete schedule of show times, age recommendations for films and ticket purchase options, which include individual tickets and discounted packages.
The Belcourt offers two discounted ticket packages: a Full Pass, which includes one ticket for each of the Studio Ghibli films, at a cost of $100 ($80 for Belcourt members); and the popular 5-Pack, which includes five tickets for five films selected by the patron, at a cost of $32.50 ($25 for Belcourt members).
"The Belcourt Theatre is pleased to be the only venue in the Southeast to feature this treasured collection of Studio Ghibli films," says Toby Leonard, director of programming at the Belcourt Theatre. "Brilliant animation viewed on our large screens will captivate and even wow audiences, but it's Studio Ghibli's powerful storytelling and deeply felt humanism that will resonate with viewers long after exiting the theatre."
This retrospective of Studio Ghibli's roster features films produced between 1984 and 2008. While revered in Japan for years, the animation house first became known in America in 1999 when it teamed with Disney to present an English-language dubbed version of PRINCESS MONONOKE and then followed with additional titles including PONYO, SPIRITED AWAY and most recently THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETY. The familiar voices of many well-known Hollywood stars are featured in these dubbed versions and include Billy Crystal, Dakota Fanning, Anne Hathaway, Michael Keaton, Shia LaBeouf, Liam Neeson, Billy Bob Thornton, Uma Thurman and Lily Tomlin, among others.
The films share a unified humanist theme, pairing lush, natural landscapes with human characters -often children-that deal with real concerns about the earth, ecology, relationships and more.
The Castles in the Sky series is presented in collaboration with GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning animation for adult and family audiences. GKIDS provides age recommendations for films as a guideline for parents, available on the Belcourt's website, www.belcourt.org.
The series opens Friday, June 1 with the must-see NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, Miyazaki's debut film with awe-inspiring animation that tells the story of a young princess, both brave and innocent, whose love for all living things and passionate determination lead her into terrible danger, sacrifice and eventual triumph. NAUSICAÄ is considered by many to be Miyazaki's masterwork. The animated series continues through June 13.
Families with young children will enjoy films including PONYO, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE and THE CAT RETURNS. PONYO centers on the friendship between a five-year-old, Sosuke, and a magicAl Goldfish named Ponyo. 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. MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO is a simple tale of two girls who discover that their surrounding forests are home to a family of Totoros, gentle but powerful creatures that live in a huge and ancient camphor tree and are seen only by children. KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE is a 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. THE CAT RETURNS, suggested for children 6 and up, follows a young girl who is pitched into a fantastical feline world where she rescues the Prince of the Cats from being run over. In recognition for saving his life, the Prince brings the girl to the Kingdom of Cats to be his bride.