The Boy and the Heron TIFF The Boy and the Heron TIFF

Hayao Miyazaki’s latest and perhaps final animated feature The Boy and the Heron (previously referred to as How Do You Live) will get its international premiere on September 7, when it opens this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

This is a historic get for Toronto for a number of reasons. For starters, the festival has never selected an animated feature as its opening film. What’s more, this will be the first time that any Japanese film will open the festival, now on its 48th edition.

Selecting The Boy and the Heron to headline this year’s festival is also part of a larger Japanese cinema showcase planned by TIFF titled POP Japan. The sidebar is programmed to “celebrate the convergence of the cult, pulp, and popular in Japanese film and art.” Miyazaki’s films My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away were also selected for the World of Anime retrospective within the POP Japan showcase.

TIFF has a long history of screening Ghibli films. Past entries include The Red Turtle, The Princess Kaguya, The Wind Rises, From Up on Puppy Hill, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke.

Cameron Baily, TIFF CEO, said in a release:

We are honored to open the 48th Toronto International Film Festival with the work of one of cinema’s greatest artists. 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.

The Boy and the Heron is an original story written and directed by Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, and features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi. It’s Miyazaki’s first feature in 10 years. The film opened in Japan earlier this month with the biggest-ever local box office debut in Studio Ghibli’s history.

An appearance in Toronto could be good for the film’s (already strong) U.S. commercial prospects as Studio Ghibli opted to skip any marketing, previews, or press screenings for The Boy and the Heron and didn’t even produce a trailer. In fact, the studio hasn’t even release a synopsis, so the only insight that most of the world has into the story is what has already been published by Japanese critics. When English-writing critics get to see the film with subtitles in September, North American audiences will have a much better idea of what to expect when GKIDS, Ghibli’s long-time North American distributor, eventually releases the film later this year.

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