Hey Toronto! It's Time to Get your Ghibli on! 15 Film Retrospective March 10 - April 13

On this website, Studio Ghibli needs little introduction, but to the rest of North America, Totoro is hardly a household name.  Thus, this touring retrospective, having already completed stops on each coast of the US - the American Cinematheque and The IFC Centre - and now coming to Toronto's TIFF Lightbox, is the chance for many to catch the bulk of the studio's output, films both epic and intimate, on the big screen in newly struck 35mm prints.  And - this should be stressed - conscientious projection.  Having seen about half a dozen of them this way, the experience is quite ... revealing!  The attention to detail in a Ghibli film benefits mightily in the big screen format.

TIFF Lightbox is opening a month-long retrospective of Studio Ghibli just in time for March Break - a Canadian ritual known in the USA as Spring Break or Reading Week - where  school kids get a week away from the classroom and the parents have to figure out what to do with them.  As adventures in cinema go, I cannot think of a better example of 'family viewing' than the works of this Japane most significant house of animation.  Lightbox programmer, Jesse Wente clearly feels the same:

That Ghibli's work can retain its remarkable cohesion with material that ranges from delightful fairy tales to muscular adventures to historical epics and serious dramas testifies to the studio's strong philosophical foundation and shared vision. Key to this sensibility is Ghibli's strong emphasis on the human characters in their films -- children in particular -- over such animation staples as talking animals (not that Ghibli doesn't have its fair share of those as well). Children are the protagonists in almost all of Ghibli's films, but as opposed to the reductive portrayal of kids so common in the American cinema, the Ghibli films present determined, intelligent young people who pursue their goals -- whether recovering their parents from an uncanny magical realm in Spirited Away, defending a kingdom in Nausicaä or surviving in the ravaged landscape of WWII-era Japan in Grave of the Fireflies -- with bravery and resourcefulness. 

Celebrating the first quarter century of the beloved studio formed by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takhata (from 1984s Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, up until 2008s Ponyo) from wildly popular favourites Spirited AwayPrincess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro to lesser known (well, to North American audiences, anyway) entries such as Whisper of the HeartThe Ocean Waves and Only Yesterday.  

Not to put it on Disney vs Ghibli terms - both studios has been collaborating in several capacities for years, particularly Disney releasing most of the studios works theatrically Princess Mononoke and catalogue titles on DVD - but I am still kicking myself for not writing this article before Wired did which examines the different philosophies of the Disney Princesses vs. the Ghibli Heroines.

Howl's Moving Castle was my first review published on Twitch (back in early 2005) so, on a personal note as a father who has since that time, given preferential treatment of Studio Ghibli over the ubiquitous Pixar/Disney, as this retrospective comes to Toronto it offers an excellent chance to not only catch often-viewed favourites on the big screen and several new experiences as well.  As Dad-With-A-DSLR, I shall be getting the immediate reaction to some of the films in this series from my children, Willem & Miranda (aged 8 and 7) as the retrospective goes on.  They shall be posted in some capacity, here on Twitch.  As a preview, their reaction to Princess Mononoke recorded back in February 2011, is embedded below.

The TIFF LIGHTBOX retrospective, "Spirited Away:  The Films of Studio Ghibli," starts March 10 and runs until April 13 and features the films in their original Japanese soundtrack (with English subtitles) during the evenings, and the (quite good) Disney English-dubs of the film during the daytime.


The list of screenings is below. (S = subtitles, D = dubbed)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no Tani no Naushika) (1984)
March 10, 10:30 a.m. (D)
March 12, 2 p.m. (D)
March 15, 3:30 p.m. (D)
March 17, 7 p.m. (S)
April 8, 6 p.m. (S)
April 13, 6:30 p.m. (S)

Castle in the Sky (Tenku no shiro Rapyuta) (1986)
March 10, 7 p.m. (S)
March 31, 5 p.m. (S)
April 7, 6 p.m. (S)

Only Yesterday (Omohide Poro Poro) (1991)
March 11, 7:30 p.m. (S)
March 15, 9 p.m. (S)
April 3, 8:45 p.m. (S)

Ponyo (Gake no Ue no Ponyo) (2008)
March 12, 10:30 a.m. (D)

My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) (1988)
March 13, 10:30 a.m. (D)
March 14, 2 p.m. (D), 6:30 p.m. (S)
March 17, 1 p.m. (D)
April 8, 12:30 p.m. (D)
April 9, 6:30 p.m. (S)

Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba) (1995)
March 13, 8:45 p.m. (S)
March 14, 10:30 a.m. (D)

Porco Rosso (Kurenai no Buta) (1992)
March 15, 10:30 a.m. (D)
March 16, 2 p.m. (D)
March 22, 6:30 p.m. (S)

Kiki's Delivery Service (Majo no Takkyubin) (1989)
March 15, 1 p.m. (D)
March 17, 10:30 a.m. (D)
March 19, 6:30 p.m. (S)
April 7, 10:30 a.m. (D), 4 p.m. (S)

Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) (1997)
March 13, 2 p.m. (D)
March 16, 6:30 p.m. (S)
April 6, 6:30 p.m. (S)
April 8, 3 p.m. (D)

The Ocean Waves (Umi ga Kikoeru) (1993)
March 18, 7 p.m. (S)
April 5, 9 p.m. (S)

The Cat Returns (Neko no Onagaeshi) (2002)
March 16, 10:30 a.m. (D)
March 23, 6:30 p.m. (S)
March 24, 10:30 a.m. (D)

My Neighbors the Yamadas (Hohokekyo Tonari Yamada-kun) (1999)
March 24, 7 p.m.

Pom Poki (Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko) (1994)
March 25, 4 p.m. (D)
March 27, 9 p.m. (S)
April 21, 6:30 p.m. (S)

Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) (2001)
March 25, 7 p.m. (S)
April 1, 7 p.m. (S)
April 7, 1 p.m. (D)

Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) (2004)
March 31, 10:30 a.m. (D)
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