The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Anime on the screen at Jacob Burns

By NATALIA BAAGE-LORD
Adults might enjoy the Japanese animated adventure film “Princess Mononoke” even more than children, according to the Jacob Burns Film Center.
 

The Jacob Burns Film Center concludes its summer with a film series expected to enthrall children and adults alike.

From Friday, Aug. 10 to Thursday, Aug. 30, the Burns presents its new 15-movie series entitled “The Phantasmagoric Films of Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli.”

“We chose the title ‘Phantasmagoric’ because a lot of them are fantasy films that are rich and thoughtful and complex,” said Christopher Funderburg, senior programmer at the Burns. “They don’t shy away from difficult aspects. And they are incredibly inventive and visually stunning. In terms of their images, there are no better films in the history of cinema that can best them in terms of the richness, complexity and gorgeousness of the pictures. They touch emotions very thoughtfully and deeply.”

Studio Ghibli is an award-winning Japanese animation and film studio that was founded in 1985 by writers and directors Hayao Miyzaki and Isao Takahata. The studio has released approximately 20 movies alongside another 20 commercials, 15 short films, six music videos, and two video games. Miyazaki and Takahata were additionally involved in the industry for over two decades before Studio Ghibli was created.

While many American moviegoers might not have heard of Miyazaki or Takahata, their Studio Ghibli is equated to the Japanese version of Pixar, said Mr. Funderburg.

“Miyazaki is frequently called the Disney of Japan,” he said. “His films are unbelievably successful there. These movies absolutely are as entertaining as Disney or Pixar. They are great works that are easy for anybody to like. If somebody said that Miyazaki was the greatest filmmaker who ever lived, it wouldn’t be a crazy thing to say.”

However, Studio Ghibli’s films are not so well known nationwide because many have not been released in America. The Jacob Burns Film Center’s series is one of the few times that Westchester County audiences can see Studio Ghibli’s films on the big screen, not just on the small screen via DVD or Netflix.

“Several of the films we are showing in the series have never been released in the United States,” Mr. Funderburg said. “This is an opportunity to see some films that are really difficult to see. This is an opportunity for fans to familiarize themselves with the totality of the catalogue, not just the classics. They can dig deeper into it. These films really are up there with Pixar as the new classics. They are really enduring, even for adults.”

A variety of age groups can enjoy Studio Ghibli’s films, said Mr. Funderburg.  He suggested that in addition to seeing DreamWorks Animations’ “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” or 20th Century Fox’s “Ice Age: Continental Drift” this summer, parents should also join their children in seeing some of Studio Ghibli’s work.

Mr. Funderburg stated that adults might even enjoy the 1997 adventure film “Princess Mononoke” more than children. The movie tells the story of a boy traveling through a war between the forest gods and a mining colony to find the cure for a curse.

“Even if you are an adult and your kids are out of the house, these are amazing art works,” said Mr. Funderburg. “There are movies in here like ‘Only Yesterday’ and ‘My Neighbor the Yamadas’ that are as good as anything you will ever see. They are really spectacular movies, and really emotionally rich as well. In addition, they are also amazingly entertaining and amazingly gripping.”

To help make the films more accessible, especially for children, the Jacob Burns Film Center is screening the English-dubbed films at noon on the weekends. This includes “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and “Spirited Away.” Audiences will hear English voices instead of having to read the English subtitles.

A talkback session will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 15 after the comedy/drama film “Pom Poko.” While the film was made in 1994, it was only released in the United States in January 2012. Mr. Funderburg said that he will alter the subject of his talkback session based on the audience’s age, possibly speaking about Japanese creatures, anime history or the process of creating an animated film.

The Jacob Burns Film Center’s next offering will be a retrospective of Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s work in September. Farhadi’s 2011 drama film, “A Separation,” won the 2012 Golden Globe and Oscar for best foreign language film. Farhadi also earned a spot on Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2012 list.

For more information about “The Phantasmagoric Films of Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Studio Ghibli,” including a full list of titles and their show times, call 747-5555 or visit www.burnsfilmcenter.org.


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