Cannes Honors Animation Powerhouse Studio Ghibli in Historic Tribute

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In a historic moment, under the glimmering skies along the shimmering French Riviera, the renowned Cannes Film Festival paid homage to the 39-year-old powerhouse of animation– Japan’s Studio Ghibli. For the first time in its 22-year history of honoring lifetime achievements, Cannes, with this honorary Palme d’Or, extended its recognition beyond individual filmmakers or actors, and saluted an entire studio. Studio Ghibli, celebrated for its extraordinary and boundary-pushing animated films, embarked its mesmerizing journey with stories of Totoros, magical jellyfish, and floating castles that continue to captivate audiences worldwide.

Among the noted dignitaries of cinema, the recipients of this prestigious accolade this year included the legendary George Lucas and Meryl Streep. However, the founder of Studio Ghibli, the 83-year-old maestro of animation, Hayao Miyazaki, did not attend the ceremony. Having founded the studio in 1985, alongside fellow visionaries Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki, Miyazaki instead, offered his acceptance and gratitude via a video message from his home in Japan.

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The aura of Cannes is renowned for its prolonged standing ovations, yet the intensity of applause that greeted Studio Ghibli’s representatives, Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao, and Kenichi Yoda, stood out as one of the most passionate responses witnessed by the festival. Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes, navigated his way across the grand stage to capture the ovation in a video meant for Miyazaki.

Iris Knobloch, the festival’s president, in her tribute, thanked the studio for “all the magic” it has infused into the realm of cinema. Doubling the celebration, acclaimed Ghibli shorts – previously exclusive to Japanese audiences – were made part of the screening. This included the notable follow-up to Miyazaki’s 1989 classic “My Neighbor Totoro,” – “Mei and the Baby Cat Bus” which showcased an expanded fleet of feline transportation.

These shorts, primarily crafted for the Studio Ghibli Museum located near Tokyo, involved “Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess,” a food-focused adventure set in Miyazaki’s world from his 2001 film, “Spirited Away.” The other two shorts – “House Hunting” and “Boro the Caterpillar” – played out musical escapades involving forest creatures.

The tribute to Studio Ghibli closely followed Miyazaki’s latest film, “The Boy and the Heron,” clinching the Academy Award for the best animated film in March. Though Miyazaki wasn’t present to collect the Oscar, his son Goro, a renowned director himself, shared the anecdote of needing a hotel towel to safely transport the Oscar home.

On Monday, however, Goro was relieved to find the much-coveted Palme d’Or neatly packed inside a box. His playful grin, a reassurance amidst the glamour and grandeur of Cannes, an echo of the charm and warmth Studio Ghibli’s films are globally admired for.