Studio Ghibli founders Studio Ghibli founders

The upcoming 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will honor Studio Ghibli with an honorary Palme d’or. It marks the first time that the festival has given its honorary prize to a group of people rather than an individual artist.

It also marks only the second time since 2002, when the festival started regularly handing out these honorary awards, that they’ve recognized people from the animation world. The other animation-related winner was Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in 2017. The honorary award is presented to notable figures who have never won a competitive Palme d’or.

In Ghibli’s case, they are being recognized for their roughly two dozen feature films produced over the last forty years. The films, which include Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbors the Yamadas, The Wind Rises, and The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, are in the words of the festival, “imbued with poetry and with humanistic and environmental commitments,” and share “stories that are as personal as they are universal.” The studio’s most recent effort, Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron, won the Academy Award for best animated feature.

“Like all the icons of the Seventh Art, these characters populate our imaginations with prolific, colorful universes and sensitive, engaging narrations,” said Iris Knobloch, president of the Cannes film fest, and Thierry Frémaux, general delegate. “With Ghibli, Japanese animation stands as one of the great adventures of cinephilia, between tradition and modernity.”

Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki, who co-founded the studio with Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Takahata and Yasuyoshi Tokuma, added in a statement:

I am truly honored and delighted that the studio is awarded the Honorary Palme d’or. I would like to thank the Festival de Cannes from the bottom of my heart. Forty years ago, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and I established Studio Ghibli with the desire to bring high-level, high-quality animation to children and adults of all ages. Today, our films are watched by people all over the world, and many visitors come to the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka and Ghibli Park to experience the world of our films for themselves. We have truly come a long way for Studio Ghibli to become such a big organization. Although Miyazaki and I have aged considerably, I am sure that Studio Ghibli will continue to take on new challenges, led by the staff who will carry on the spirit of the company. It would be my greatest pleasure if you look forward to what’s next.

The Cannes fest, which ironically offers zero animated features in its competition line-up this year, will take place from May 14-25 in France.

Pictured at top (l-to-r): Three of Studio Ghibli’s four founders – Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki,and Isao Takahata.