From the heart of Japan comes Studio Ghibli Fest 2019, a monthly showcase of well-known and not-so-well-known whimsical classics from director, animator and writer Hayao Miyazaki — and the crew he inspired — in a theater near you.
Miyazaki, a celebrated filmmaker and animator, is often called the Walt Disney of Japan. His films feature breathtaking visuals, animated by hand at Studio Ghibli, and captivating stories filled to the brim with whimsy and magical realism. Worried about subtitles? Concerned that the English voice cast won’t be up to par? Worry not: All films will be screened dubbed and subtitled.
The festival of films, a collaboration between Fathom Events and animated film distributor GKIDS, kicks off on Sunday, April 7, with the 15th anniversary screening of Howl’s Moving Castle. The film follows a young woman cursed by a spiteful witch with the body of an old person. To remedy the situation, she enlists the help of a wizard named Howl and his castle with legs. The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2006 Academy Awards. On Sunday, the dubbed version will be screened at 12:55 p.m., and again on Monday, April 8, 7 p.m., subtitled.
The most well-known of the Studio Ghibli films taking part in the festival include the 30th anniversary of Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a little witch that could (July); Spirited Away, in which the pitfalls of greed are deftly explored (October); and Princess Mononoke, pitting industrial man against the purity and horror of nature (November).
The 35th anniversary of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is not to be missed when it comes to theaters in May: This 1984 classic is one of Miyazaki’s earliest works. The film follows the exploits of a young woman trying to bring peace to warring nations.
In July, Whisper of the Heart comes to theaters. The film, directed by Yoshifumi Kondō and written by Miyazaki, is a coming-of-age story featuring a talking cat and a magical girl.
The Secret World of Arrietty was animated by Studio Ghibli and was the directorial debut of Hiromasa Yonebayashi, who would later direct Mary and the Witch’s Flower. The film follows a tiny family residing within a family’s clock. Not to be missed in September.
For fans of classic Miyazaki, the standard bearer is My Neighbor Totoro. Forest spirits entertain two young girls who move to the countryside while their ailing mother recovers in this film featuring Totoro, a fluffy giant, and a cat that is also a bus. I told you there would be whimsy. The film comes to theaters in August.
Wrapping up the festival in December is The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, based on the classic Japanese folktale.
Miyazaki films are an experience, and there is no better place to experience them than at the theater. Show times are available in Ventura, Oxnard and Thousand Oaks, and tickets are available now at www.fathomevents.com, $10.50-12.50.