Amherst Cinema Hosts acclaimed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s Films

By Paul Bagnall

The Amherst Cinema offers a unique selection of international cinema with the ongoing   Miyazaki Film Festival, through which viewers get a retrospective look at the imaginative style of renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Rightfully named “The Studio Ghibli Collection,” Amherst Cinema obtained the rights to the studio’s work and struck new 35mm prints for the festival, so the films could be shown as they were when first debuted in Japan.

Miyazaki first started out making TV series’, the first of which was anime series “Future Boy Conan” in the 70s, before moving into his endless stream of conscious driven movies. Works such as “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro”and “Princess Mononoke”  earned Miyazaki the nickname of the “Walt Disney of Japan”.

Amherst Cinema’s General Manager, George Myers, wanted to celebrate Miyazaki’s film work, making 2013 the first year the arts cinema has shown these films in their entirety.

“We had previously shown Ponyo  when it was first released a few years ago.” Myers said in an email interview. “There was a great interest in the series here but it took some time to get our schedules to match up.”

On March 6, Amherst Cinema opened with “Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind”  that was based on the manga title of the same name that Miyazaki had created two years before

The success of this film led Miyazaki to establish his new animation studio called Studio Ghibli, where a bulk of his most critically lauded work was created, making the film an appropriate starting place for the festival.

All of the films shown were in their original Japanese language with English subtitles — a decision Amherst Cinema made in order to to present the films the way the filmmaker intended.

The festival is scheduled to last until April 10, with the final film being “Howl’s Moving Castle” . During the festival another Miyazaki film that was produced by Hayao’s son, Goro, called “From Up On Poppy Hill”  will be showing on April 5th.

“Our Head Projectionist, Dan Biegner, has been a huge advocate for this series for the past couple of years so I had been hearing whispers in my ear for a long time how awesome it would be to screen these films.” Myers said.

The turnout for each film has been excellent drawing in a large array of fans that are inspired by Miyazaki’s work.

The turnout for Wednesday nights showing of “Princess Mononoke” — which won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Film and grossed about $150 million — was packed with people sitting in the isles, as there wasn’t any more room in the small theater seating.

A large amount of fans and newcomers alike get a chance to see why Miyazaki is considered one of the greatest animation directors living today. His films have set new standards for animation directors around the world, and Amherst Cinema has rightly celebrated his extensive catalogue of brilliantly unique films.

Paul Bagnall can be reached at [email protected]