Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks aren't the only film studios making amazing animated family flicks. Since 1984, Japan's Studio Ghibli has released 17 stunning anime movies, most the brainchild of writer, artist and director Hayao Miyazaki, who masterminded Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and the Little Mermaid-inspired Ponyo. Unlike a lot of Hollywood family releases, Miyazaki's films are unpredictable, thought-provoking and nuanced, and address some really dark issues head on, like death, parental separation and unsettling adolescent fantasies. This isn't your average bland kid stuff. These films appeal to school-age kids, teens and grown-ups alike.
Through Thursday, December 20, GKIDS—the organization behind the annual New York International Children's Film Festival—is hosting a retrospective of Studio Ghibli movies at the IFC Center in Greenwich Village. Fifteen films will be shown in total, all brand-new 35mm prints. So whether you've seen these flicks on DVD or never watched them at all, this is your family's chance to experience them in their full big-screen glory.
Officially titled Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata & the Masters of Studio Ghibli, this fest is actually a revival of one that was done last year. Although GKIDS is releasing the schedule week by week on its website, the full lineup is listed on the IFC Center site, and it includes movies by Miyazaki and his fellow Studio Ghibli directors Isao Takahata, Tomomi Mochizuki and Yoshifumi Kondô.
Over Thanksgiving week (including on the holiday itself), the IFC Center is screening three of Miyazaki's most famous features—My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away—as well as lesser known films like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky. (Mochizuki's Ocean Waves, which has never been shown theatrically in the U.S., and Kondô's Whisper of the Heart, are also on the schedule.) Don't worry if you're away for the holiday, most of these titles are being screened throughout December.
Not all of the Studio Ghibli movies are good for all ages (i.e. Princess Mononoke, which, despite its Disney-sounding name, includes harrowing battle sequences and scary monsters). But GKIDS is really good about posting age recommendations on its website as well as synopses, so you know what to expect. Many films are being shown in both subtitled and dubbed versions so when you buy your tickets, make sure you note which edition you're getting, especially if you have an emerging reader on your hands.
All screenings take place at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at 3rd Street. Tickets are $13.50 for adults and $9.50 for children under 12, and can be purchased online in advance or at the box office, space permitting.