The Northwest Film Center in Portland will be the next repertory cinematheque to showcase the excellent 15-film Studio Ghibli program that was made available in the US at the end of 2011. Included in the series are Hayao Miyazaki classics “Spirited Away” (which won the animation Oscar), “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” and “Castle in the Sky” (which clearly inspired James Cameron’s “Avatar”) but also equally magical if lesser-known (and seldom-seen) Ghibli titles such as Yoshifumi Kondo’s “Whisper of the Heart” and Isao Takahata’s “Only Yesterday.”
New York’s IFC Center and L.A.’s American Cinematheque (where I am a programmer) screened the series earlier in 2012, and to wildly popular reception. A terrific aspect of the catalogue is the availability of Ghibli films in both the American dubbed and the original Japanese language versions. “My Neighbor Totoro” was already one of my favorite films, having seen it on DVD with the Fanning sisters’ voices in the two lead roles, but getting to see the film at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre, projected on a 50-foot screen, subtitled with the original voice talent, added a whole new dimension.
The downside of the series for repertory houses is the price. Ghibli’s asking price for print rental is anywhere from $500 to $1000 per screening, which is feasible (or barely feasible) for certain theatres, many of which are non-profit, and impossible for others.
Portlanders, be sure to check out this amazing Studio Ghibli retrospective — the Northwest Film Center has made a highly admirable investment in taking on the program, and these films are not to be missed. The prints are all in new condition, and many do not exist on Region 1 home-viewing formats (while most are near-impossible to see in Japanese with English subtitles).
The series runs May 4 – 27. Full list of Ghibli titles screening at the Northwest Film Center: