Cannes 2024: Studio Ghibli makes history with honourary Palme d’Or

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Studio Ghibli, the renowned Japanese anime studio that has captured the imagination of fans for the last 39 years with its magical creatures and floating castles, was awarded an honourary Palme d’Or at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

Miyazaki’s son Gorō and Ghibli Director Kenichi Yoda attended the festival on Monday to accept the prestigious award.

The honour is historic because, in the 22 years that Cannes has been awarding honourary Palmes, Studio Ghibli is the first recipient that is not an individual filmmaker or actor.

Cannes 2024: Studio Ghibli makes history with honourary Palme d’Or

Goro Miyazaki, film director and Creative Development Director of the Ghibli Park and Hayao Miyazaki’s son, poses after receiving an Honorary Palme d’Or on behalf of the Studio Ghibli during a ceremony dedicated to the animation powerhouse at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on Monday. Photo: Reuters

In his opening speech, Cannes director Thierry Frémaux said, “For the very first time, Iris Knobloch and I decided to award the honourary Palme d’Or to a studio rather than a single creative. And what a studio! Represented by Gorō Miyazaki, I give you Studio Ghibli.”

“When we won the Oscar for ‘The Boy and the Heron’, the Ghibli representatives came home with a statue, but it wasn’t in a box—they had to wrap it in a hotel towel to transport it back. So I’m very glad to see this Palme is nicely packaged,” joked Gorō, who has directed Ghibli films like “From Up on Poppy Hill” and “Tales from Earthsea”, while accepting the award.

Cannes 2024: Studio Ghibli makes history with honourary Palme d’Or

Vice President of Events and exhibitions, Studio Ghibli Kenichi Yoda waves next to Japanese director and Ghibli Park Creative Development manager Goro Miyazaki as he holds the Honorary Palme d’Orn after the ceremony at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 20, 2024. Photo: AFP

Hayao Miyazaki, the 83-year-old animation master who founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with Isao Takahata and Toshio Suzuki, didn’t attend the ceremony but spoke in a video message taped in Japan.

“I don’t understand any of this,” said Miyazaki. “But thank you.”

At Cannes, where standing ovations can stretch on endlessly, the fervour that greeted Ghibli’s emissaries — Gorō Miyazaki and Kenichi Yoda — was among the most thunderous receptions at the festival. Thierry Frémaux, Cannes’ artistic director, walked across the stage of the Grand Théâtre Lumière, filming the long ovation for a video to send to Miyazaki.

Gorō also treated the audience to four Hayao Miyazaki shorts, three of which had never been screened outside Japan.

The shorts, all of which were made for the Studio Ghibli Museum outside Tokyo, included “Mr Dough and the Egg Princess”, a culinary-themed dessert for Miyazaki’s 2001 film “Spirited Away”. The other two — “House Hunting” and “Boro the Caterpillar” — are musical mini-adventures for forest creatures.

Founded in 1985, Studio Ghibli has produced celebrated animated films like “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Whisper of the Heart”, “Howl’s Moving Castle”, and “Princess Mononoke”. The studio received an Oscar in 2001 for “Spirited Away” and another this year for “The Boy and the Heron”.

The 77th Cannes Film Festival began on May 14 and will conclude on May 25.

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