The Boy and the Heron The Boy and the Heron

The San Sebastián International Film Festival, Spain’s top film festival and one of the most prestigious in all of Europe, has revealed that Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron will open this year’s 71st edition on September 22.

The Boy and the Heron will be making its European debut at San Sebastián, which will be the second major Western festival to open with the latest Studio Ghibli film after the Toronto International Film Festival does so on September 7.

The film will also make history as the first non-Spanish animated film to open San Sebastián and just the second animated feature to do so. Festival regular Juan José Campanella’s Argentina-Spain co-production Underdogs opened the fest back in 2013.

This won’t be the first time that Miyazaki’s work will feature at San Sebastián, but again, this time feels different. Spirited Away and Ponyo each screened at San Sebastián’s Velodrome and in 2013 The Wind Rises played at the Perlak. Those venues typically spotlight broader commercial properties while The Boy and the Heron will play at the festival’s nerve center, the iconic Kursall, which looms large over the Bay of Biscay. Additionally, the festival’s opening spot is typically reserved for high-profile Spanish fare or standout indie productions from around the world.

We still don’t know when U.S. audiences will get their chance to see Miyazaki’s latest and perhaps final film, although its North American distributor GKIDS has said it will be sometime this year.

Tickets for San Sebastián’s opening gala will go on sale on September 4.

Update: As we were polishing this piece, the New York Film Festival announced it will host the U.S. premiere of The Boy and the Heron in its Spotlight section. Along with the announcement, the festival shared the most detailed official English-language synopsis of the film we’ve seen to date:

While the Second World War rages, the teenage Mahito, haunted by his mother’s tragic death, is relocated from Tokyo to the serene rural home of his new stepmother Natsuko, a woman who bears a striking resemblance to the boy’s mother. As he tries to adjust, this strange new world grows even stranger following the appearance of a persistent gray heron, who perplexes and bedevils Mahito, dubbing him the “long-awaited one.” Indeed, an extraordinary and grand fate is in store for our young hero, who must journey to a subterranean alternate reality in the hopes of saving Natsuko—and perhaps himself.