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Rare sequel to ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ to play at Cannes

Four rare short films from Japanese animation’s Studio Ghibli, including a sequel to “My Neighbor Totoro”, will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, organizers said Saturday. The screenings will be part of an “unprecedented event” this Monday, as the legendary animation group becomes the first collective to receive an honorary Palme d’Or. The accolade is typically bestowed on individuals.

Three of the four short films have never been screened outside of Japan, and come “straight from the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka,” said an official Cannes press release. Among the films is 2002’s “Mei and the Baby Cat Bus,” billed as a “mini-sequel” to Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki’s 1989 classic “My Neighbor Totoro”. Hayao Miyazaki, 83, will not personally attend the French festival, but his son Goro Miyazaki will take the stage for the ceremony on Monday afternoon, organizers said.

Hayao Miyazaki makes few public appearances. Despite announced his retirement more than once, he continues to work, and was back in cinemas last year with “The Boy and the Heron”. The Oscar-winning Studio Ghibli, founded 40 years ago, is beloved worldwide for its masterpieces like “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”. “My Neighbor Totoro” follows two sisters who move with their father to the countryside where they come across Totoro and other forest creatures.

With its whimsical pastels and postwar Japanese countryside setting, the movie made its debut in 1988 and became an instant classic. The film’s characters have become cultural icons with the eponymous wood spirit Totoro serving as the mascot for Studio Ghibli. The other three short films set to be screened Monday are “House Hunting”,” Boro the Caterpillar” and “Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess”. — AFP

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