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Today I received my monthly BFI Guide in the post, which contained details for the first half of the Studio Ghibli Retrospective. The information isn’t available on the BFI website just yet, so I have listed the screenings (plus trailers) below.

Note that all films, except the Funday screening of 「千と千尋の神隠し」 (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi/Spirited Away, 2001), will be shown subtitled.

Booking: Priority booking for BFI Champions opens on 3 March, for BFI Members on 4 March. Public booking opens on 11 March.

  • 23 April: Preview of 「風立ちぬ」(Kaze Tachinu/The Wind Rises, 2013) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao.

Miyazaki’s latest film finally makes it to London. If you can get a ticket, go go go. My REVIEW.

  • 2 April: Season Introductions: Studio Ghibli, Masters of Anime

From the guide: “Telling the story of Japan’s most acclaimed, beloved and successful animation studio (and its directors and founders Hiyao [sic] Miyazako and Iaso Takahta [sic]), this richly illustrated talk will surely convince any novices of the joys of anime. Season curator – and longtime devotee – Justin Johnson will explore the quality and beauty of the Studio’s output, its evolution through its 30-year history, and consider why it hasn’t had the same box-office impact as its American contemporaries – despite rapturous critical reception.”

Other film screenings:

  • 「風の谷のナウシカ」(Kaze no Tani no Naushika/Nausicaä, 1984) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 2, 3 and 7 April

Made prior to the founding of Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä may look old, but it remains as poignant as ever and remains, in my opinion, one of the studio’s best films. It has all the elements that make Studio Ghibli so wonderful and different from most Western animations: a strong heroine and a complex plot focused on environmental issues.

  • 「天空の城ラピュタ」 (Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta/Laputa Castle in the Sky, 1986) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 10, 11 and 15 April.

Laputa falls under Ghibli’s one of more lighthearted films and envisions a castle that is, literally, in the sky.

  •  火垂るの墓 (Hotaru no Haka/Grave of the Fireflies, 1988) – Dir. by Takahata Isao. 3, 9 and 13 April.

Take tissues. Lots of tissues. Hotaru no Haka is one of the most devastating films you will ever see, animated or otherwise. Its semi-autobiographical story relates the fate of two children towards the end of World War II and shows it all: the hunger, the cruelty, the loneliness, the despair. If the ‘West’ thought that serious topics can’t be made into animated films, it’s only because they haven’t got the imagination and guts that Japanese filmmakers have.

Note: I actually would not watch this film in the cinema – it took me a good year to mentally prepare myself to watch it at all and when I did I was sobbing near-continuously. However, if you are not as much a crybaby as I am, catch this screening as Hotaru no Haka is one of those Ghibli films that is rarely shown in cinemas, even in retrospectives.

  • 「となりのトトロ」 (Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbor Totoro, 1988) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 17, 19 and 28 April.

A charming film about two young girls who move into the countryside with their father and encounter a friendly spirit – the humongous, but adorable Totoro. He’s one of Ghibli’s most famous characters and certainly put the studio on the map. The final twist in the tale isn’t too original, but I love the film for how well it conveys the world from the eyes of children (you won’t catch your breath in the first ten minutes of the girls racing about) and that we’ve got a (sort of) single father – so progressive, already in 1988.

  • 「魔女の宅急便」 (Majo no Takkyūbin/Kiki’s Delivery Service, 1989) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 20, 21 and 27 April.

This was the first Studio Ghibli film I ever watched and it remains dear to my heart. It’s more lighthearted but oh-so-delightful, with Kiki, its little witch-in-training, and Jiji,  the cutest black cat ever. Much recommended.

  • 「紅の豚 」(Kurenai no Buta/Porco Rosso, 1992) – Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 20, 22 and 29 April.

I haven’t watched this one yet!

  • 「千と千尋の神隠し」 (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi/Spirited Away, 2001)– Dir. by Miyazaki Hayao. 26 and 28 April, plus Funday Screening.

Most people have at least heard of Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi as its Best Animated Film Oscar made the world take notice of the magic of Studio Ghibli. And magical it is. It’s one of the few Ghibli movies that is actually clearly set in Japan, featuring the most ingenious bathhouse ever.

Film Funday: 27 April 2014

The Funday is aimed at families with children. There will be a spirit-god making workshop at 11 am, following by a (dubbed) screening of 「千と千尋の神隠し」 (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi/Spirited Away, 2001)  at 1 pm. The workshop is free for Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi ticket holders.

The retrospective will continue in May with another 12 films.

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