While several of Studio Ghibli’s films have screened at TIFF, including The Red Turtle (2016), The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (2014), The Wind Rises (2013), From Up on Poppy Hill (2011), Spirited Away (2002), and Princess Mononoke (1999), this is the first time a Japanese film or an animated film has opened the Festival.
“We are honoured to open the 48th Toronto International Film Festival with the work of one of cinema’s greatest artists,” said Cameron Bailey, CEO, TIFF. “Already acclaimed as a masterpiece in Japan, Hayao Miyazaki’s new film begins as a simple story of loss and love and rises to a staggering work of imagination. I look forward to our audience discovering its mysteries for themselves, but I can promise a singular, transformative experience.”
This announcement comes on the heels of TIFF’s recent showcase and audience favourite, POP Japan, celebrating the convergence of the cult, pulp, and popular in Japanese film and art, in which Miyazaki’s seminal films and most lauded classics, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, were also featured.
The Boy and the Heron opened to record-breaking success in Japan. The hand-drawn, animated feature — director Miyazaki’s first feature film in 10 years — features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi. In an extraordinary break with tradition, Studio Ghibli released the film in Japan without any promotion, marketing materials, or film description, allowing audiences to discover the film for themselves. This screening will be the International Premiere and the first opportunity for audiences outside of Japan to experience the film for themselves. GKIDS is distributing The Boy and the Heron in North America, where it will be released in theatres later in the year.