Part of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, which is halfway through its 16th annual edition, is the US premiere of the highly anticipated new film from Studio Ghibli, creators of the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and many other animated clasics.
From Up On Poppy Hill marks the first feature film collaboration between legendary studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and his son Goro. The pair delivers true to Studio Ghibli form, with a story that is vividly animated and told with heartfelt sincerity.
Set in Yokohama in 1963, From Up On Poppy Hill describes a Japan that has emerged from the ashes of World War II and built itself into a country that will host the 1964 Olympics. There is a feeling of optimism among the characters and within the scenery.
Umi, the hardest working high school student in Japan, awakens before dawn each morning to prepare breakfast for her younger siblings and the residents of her grandmother’s boarding house before going to school. While she is active and happy, Umi misses her father, who was the captain of a supply ship that sank during the Korean War, and raises flags for him every day in the hopes that he’ll return.
In the midst of her busy life at home and at school, Umi develops a crush on Shun, a writer for their high school newspaper. The two are inseparable until Shun discovers a secret from his past that adversely affects his future with Umi.
The past is a running theme throughout the film. Umi and Shun rally their classmates to help save their dilapidated clubhouse from being town down by the school. The clubhouse is symbolic of Japan itself and the younger generation’s struggle to break free from its war-torn history and to move confidently toward a bright future. At a debate on whether or not to save the clubhouse, classmates argue that they’ve “suffered the scars of war, and we’re more thoughtful,” and it’s time to “let go of the past and tear down old buildings.” Shun counters by saying, “You cannot move into the future without first knowing the past.”
These are words that Shun takes to heart, as he searches for clues to uncover the mystery of an early childhood clouded by the circumstance and misery of war. The Miyazakis are sensitive to how we’re all connected to the past, and they empower the children of From Up On Poppy Hill to reconcile with history while moving forward.
Beautifully drawn and exquisitely written, From Up On Poppy Hill is a masterpiece from a studio that settles for nothing but masterpieces.
From Up On Poppy Hill
Animation, Goro Miyazaki, 2011/2012, 92 min
Recommended ages 9 to adult
IFC Center – 323 6th Avenue (at W. 3rd Street)
Friday, March 15 at 11:10 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:05 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m., 3:05 p.m., 3:05 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:50 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
Monday, March 18 at 11:10 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 3:05 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:15 p.m., 9:15 p.m.
Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center – 144 W. 65th Street (Lincoln Center)
Friday, March 15 at 11:00 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 9:50 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 at 7:45 p.m., 9:50 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 at 11:00 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 9:50 p.m.
Monday, March 18 at 11:00 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 3:20 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 9:50 p.m.
For the full list and schedule of all films screening at NYICFF and to purchase tickets, go to http://www.gkids.tv/intheaters.cfm or call 212-349-0330.