THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY
KARI-GURASHI NO ARIETTI
2010, Walt Disney Pictures, 94 min, Japan, Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Gary Rydstrom

Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler) is a tiny but tenacious 14-year-old who lives with her parents (voiced by Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) in the recesses of a suburban garden home, unbeknownst to the homeowner and her housekeeper (voiced by Carol Burnett). Like all little people, Arrietty remains hidden from view, except during occasional covert ventures beyond the floorboards to “borrow” scrap supplies from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (voiced by David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate one evening, a secret friendship blossoms. If discovered, their relationship could drive Arrietty’s family from the home and straight into danger. Executive produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall and based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series 'The Borrowers.'


ONLY YESTERDAY
OMOHIDE PORO PORO
1991, Studio Ghibli, 118 min, Japan, Dir: Isao Takahata

Realizing that she is at a crossroads in her life, bored twenty-something Taeko heads for the countryside. The trip dredges up forgotten childhood memories that unfold in flashback to younger years: the first immature stirrings of romance, the onset of puberty, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. Directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Hayao Miyazaki, ONLY YESTERDAY is a double period piece that beautifully evokes both the 1960s and the 1980s, and the quintessential drama of Japanese school-day nostalgia. Studio Ghibli is known for its female heroines, from Princesses Nausicaa and Mononoke to Kiki to Ponyo - but with ONLY YESTERDAY it delves deeper into the real emotional experiences of girls/women than perhaps any animated film before or since. Not available in any North American home viewing formats.


WHISPER OF THE HEART
MIMI WO SUMASEBA
1995, Studio Ghibli, 111 min, Japan, Dir: Yoshifumi Kondo

In the mid-1990s, the great Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki (SPIRITED AWAY) wanted to begin mentoring a new generation of animation artists in Japan. The result was WHISPER OF THE HEART, a gentle coming-of-age drama scripted, produced and storyboarded by Miyazaki and then directed by Yoshifumi Kondo (later animation director on PRINCESS MONONOKE), whom Miyazaki hoped would introduce new blood into his Studio Ghibli. Adapted from the manga by Aoi Hiragi, the film tells the story of Shizuku, a shy student with high school entrance exam worries and inchoate aspirations, who meets a magical cat on a commuter bus and follows it to a boutique where significant objects abound, each with a story of its own. Notable for its celebration of the mysteries of daily living, in WHISPER OF THE HEART "Miyazaki's script suggests that a sense of magic can exist, even in everyday Tokyo," according to animation historian Charles Solomon. The story of a young girl finding her voice both literally and figuratively, WHISPER OF THE HEART is a film tinged by tragedy: Yoshifumi Kondo died of a brain aneurysm in 1998. His only feature attests to his talent, and Miyazaki has yet to find an equally gifted protégé.


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