Acclaimed director of twelve feature films, and the writer and producer of numerous other features and shorts, Hayao Miyazaki will be retiring from filmmaking. Studio Ghibli president Koju Hoshino announced the news today at the Venice Film Festival, where Miyazaki’s latest, The Wind Rises, is screening. Miyazaki, 72, was not in attendance.
It’s hard to overstate Miyazaki’s importance in anime; in terms of influence and historical importance, he’s been compared favorably to Walt Disney. He directed his first feature, The Castle of Cagliostro, in 1979, co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985, and lays claim to widely lauded and award-winning titles like Casle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo. His 2001 feature Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002 and went on to top Titanic as Japan’s highest grossing film of all time, a record it still holds.
The Wind Rises, which premiered in Japan in late July to rave reviews and bumped Monsters University for the top opening weekend this year, is in competition at Venice before appears at the Toronto Film Festival next week, it’s North American premier. Warner Bros. will be distributing the picture in the U.S. The Wind Rises is a fictionalized account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of Japanese warplanes in WWII, including the famed Mitsubishi Zero fighter. The story, full of characteristic Studio Ghibli fantasy, is based on a short story by Tatsuo Hori. Miyazaki wrote the screenplay adaptation (as well as a previous manga adaptation of the same source material) in addition to directing.