March is Miyazaki madness month at the Northwest Film Center

Throughout the month of March, the Northwest Film Center will be presenting “Classics from Studio Ghibli,” a retrospective of the world-famous Japanese animation studio’s acclaimed works.

At least one film per weekend will be screened at the Whitsell Auditorium, including classics such as Princess Mononoke (1997) and My Neighbor Totoro (1988). The presentation will be sure to please, riding the wisps of breeze trailing behind beloved director Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Wind Rises, which recently screened at the Portland International Film Festival.

“Ghibli is unquestionably the most innovative and influential animation studio in the world,” said Nick Bruno, PR and marketing associate with the NWFC. “We’ve honored their work before with a 13-film retrospective back in 2012. Since we knew in advance that we’d be opening [PIFF] with The Wind Rises it seemed like the perfect time to bring the films back in a nine-film version of that prior series.”

Studio Ghibli was established in 1985 in Tokyo by directors Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Since its inception, the studio has been a channel for the imaginative dreamscapes of Miyazaki, Takahata and a collection of other brilliant directors and animators under their guidance.

Studio Ghibli has created some of the world’s most acclaimed animated films. They dominated the highest-
grossing animated movies lists in their native Japan and won both a Golden Bear and an Oscar within the same year for their masterpiece Spirited Away (2002), which will be showing on March 22.

Before the previous retrospective in 2012, the NWFC acquired 35 mm prints of each film that were created by Studio Ghibli themselves. These same prints will be shown in the same venue for all those who missed the opportunity to see the films on the big screen the first time around, as well as those who wish to experience them again.

“Most students on campus are of an age to have seen many of the Ghibli films on home video. I think it’s truly exciting to think about those who are deep fans of the work getting to see the films theatrically, possibly for the first time,” Bruno said.

Since the NWFC has shortened their Ghibli retrospective from 13 to nine films this time around, they made sure to keep the films that affected the audience most powerfully on their list of films
to show.

There is no chronological flow to the screening; this isn’t a typical beginning-to-end run of the studio’s releases. Rather, the NWFC has opted to screen the films based on a flow or mood that will allow audiences to navigate Ghibli’s works effectively, opening with their flagship Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and proceeding with a smattering of lesser-known films sprinkled with popular classics.

To experience any one of these incredible films on spectacular 35 mm prints crafted by Studio Ghibli is an opportunity that Portland State students won’t want to miss. Especially for those students with families and children of their own, this upcoming series will be a great chance to introduce loved ones and new generations alike to the joy and splendor of Studio Ghibli, or maybe for some, to film in general.

“I’ve become a huge fan of My Neighbor Totoro, although I only experienced it for the first time during our last stab at a Ghibli program,” said Bruno. “I’m mostly looking forward to it this time around because I’m planning on taking my son to it. It’s going to be his first time seeing a film in a theater.”