Belle Belle

Mamoru Hosoda’s last feature Mirai premiered at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2018, and we were hoping to see his new film Belle in the festival line-up this year. No luck so far, although some sections, including Directors’ Fortnight, have yet to announce their selections. For now, we’ll make do with the film’s first international trailer, which has just been released.

Belle tells the story of a teenage girl who joins the vast virtual world of U, where she assumes the identity of a pop star. The trailer fleshes that virtual realm out with great detail and lashings of cgi. There are echoes of Beauty and the Beast, the “beauty” of the title encountering a mysterious, monstrous figure. Watch the trailer below:

While Hosoda has long had a fanbase outside Japan, Mirai was something of a breakout hit, earning an Oscar nomination and an Annie Award. So hopes are high for Belle, which is once again produced by Hosoda’s Studio Chizu, with the company’s president Yuichiro Saito serving as producer.

The director assembled a creative supergroup for the production. Veteran Disney character designer Jin Kim designed the title character, while a team working under Wolfwalkers directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart created background art at Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon. London-based architect and designer Eric Wong is responsible for the concept artwork for the virtual world.

Belle comes out in Japanese theaters on July 16. Charades is handling sales in international markets, Nippon Television in Asia.

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