千と千尋の神隠し (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi/Spirited Away)

Every spring the National Cherry Blossom Festival takes places in Washington, DC, celebrating “the gift of the cherry blossom trees” and “the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan”. If this sounds a bit flowery (excuse the pun), ignore it, because the great thing about the festival is that it comes with all kinds of fabulous events, many of which are free.

This year there will be a day of Studio Ghibli screenings on April 15, with four films on the programme:

  • 崖の上のポニョ(Gake no Ue no Ponyo/Ponyo, 2008):
  • 紅の豚 (Kurenai no Buta/Porco Rosso, 1992):
  • もののけ姫 (Mononoke-hime/Princess Mononoke, 1997):
  • 千と千尋の神隠し (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi/Spirited Away, 2001):

More details on the event: Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli.

But that’s not all for Japanese cinema as the Cherry Blossom Festival offers plenty more, including another Studio Ghibli gem. Full details are available here, but other cinematic highlights are:

  • となりのトトロ (Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbour Totoro, 1988) – Another Studio Ghibli classic.
  • サマーウォーズ (Samā Wōzu/Summer Wars, 2009) – Directed by Hosoda Mamoru.
  • 千年火 (Sennenbi/The Thousand Year Fire, 2004) – Directed by Segi Naoki.
  • 朱花の月 (Hanezu no tsuki/Hanezu, 2011) – Directed by Kawase Naomi.
  • 津波そして桜 (Tsunami soshite sakura/The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, 2011) – Lucy Walker’s Oscar nominated short.
  • There will also be a showcase entitled “Japanese Divas”, featuring a whole slew of films from the golden age of Japanese cinema (1930s-1960s), as well as a trio of Samurai films.
  • Finally, Workhouse will have a day on Japanese Art and Culture on April 21. It h includes a double bill of film screenings, one of which is Shinkai Makoto’s cherry-blossom filled 秒速5センチメートル (Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru/5 cm per Second, 2007). As you might know the film’s title alludes to the speed at which cherry blossom petals fall. (How awesome can a title get?)

All in all, a wonderful line-up, which leaves me with only one question: Why aren’t there more cherry blossom festivals the world round?

 Hosoda’s サマーウォーズ (Samā Wōzu/Summer Wars, 2009)