Studio Ghibli takes a bow at Cannes with an honourary Palme d'Or


Japanese Vice President of Events and exhibitions, Studio Ghibli Kenichi Yoda (R) and Japanese director and Ghibli Park Creative Development manager Goro Miyazaki pose during a photocall before receiving the Honorary Palme d’Or during the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 20, 2024. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Studio Ghibli, the Japanese anime factory of surreal ecological wonders that has for 39 years spirited away moviegoers with tales of Totoros, magical jellyfish and floating castles, was celebrated Monday by the Cannes Film Festival with an honourary Palme d'Or.

In the 22 years that Cannes has been handing out honourary Palmes, the award for Ghibli was the first for anything but an individual filmmaker or actor. (This year's other recipients are George Lucas and Meryl Streep.)

Hayao Miyazaki, the 83-year-old animation master who founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki, didn't attend the ceremony, but he spoke in a video message taped in Japan.

"I don't understand any of this", said Miyazaki. "But thank you."

At Cannes, where standing ovations can stretch on end, the fervor that greeted Ghibli's emissaries - Goro Miyazaki (son of Hayao) and Kenichi Yoda - was nevertheless among the most thunderous receptions at the festival. Thierry Fremaux, Cannes' artistic director, walked across the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière filming the long ovation, he said, for a video to send to Miyazaki.

"With this Palme d'Or, we'd like to thank you for all the magic you've brought to cinema," said Iris Knobloch, the president of the festival, presenting the award.

Goro Miyazaki, left, and Kenichi Yoda pose for photographers with the Studio Ghibli honorary Palme d'Or upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Apprentice' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)Goro Miyazaki, left, and Kenichi Yoda pose for photographers with the Studio Ghibli honorary Palme d'Or upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Apprentice' at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

The occasion wasn't marked by any new Ghibli film but four earlier shorts that hadn't previously been shown outside Japan. Mei and the Baby Cat Bus, a brief follow-up to Miyazaki's 1989 My Neighbor Totoro, expands the Cat Bus of that classic to a whole fleet of cat conveyances, most notably the mini Baby Cat Bus.

The shorts, all of which were made for the Studio Ghibli Museum outside Tokyo, included Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess, a culinary-themed desert for Miyazaki's 2001 film Spirited Away. The other two - House Hunting and Boro the Caterpillar - make musical mini-adventures for forest creatures.

The Studio Ghibli celebration came on the heels of Miyazaki's long-awaited The Boy and the Heron winning the Academy Award in March for best animated film. (A documentary on its making, Hayao Miyazaki and the Heron, also played in Cannes.)

Miyazaki sat out that ceremony, too. Goro Miyazaki, whose own films include From Up on Poppy Hill and Tales From Earthsea, said they had to use a hotel towel to wrap the Oscar to bring home to his father. On Monday, he was relieved by the portability of the Cannes prize.

"I'm reassured seeing the Palme d'Or was in a box," he said, grinning. – AP

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