GKids Takes Studio Ghibli Docu Feature

Fly-on-the-wall portrait of legendary Japanese animation studio plays at Annecy Festival

ANNECY — In a second high-profile North American acquisition announcement at the Annecy Animation Film Festival, GKids has acquired rights to the U.S. and Canada on the documentary feature “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.”

The deal was closed between GKids Eric Beckman and Geoffrey Wexler, representing Studio Ghibli, at France’s Annecy Festival prior to “Kingdom’s” screening at Annecy this Thursday.

The distribution pact builds on Studio Ghibli’s close working relationship with GKids which already handles North American distribution for the Studio Ghibli library, and distributes Studio Ghibli’s “From Up on Poppy Hill,” by Goro Miyazaki, and Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” which has just opened this year’s Annecy Festival.

GKids will release “Princess Kaguya” theatrically for awards consideration in fall 2014.

Directed by Mami Sunada (“Death of a Japanese Salesman”), “Kingdom” offers a privileged and rare fly-on-the-wall record of the inner workings and dedication that has created a legendary animation studio which is not only enigmatic but successful, helping to develop a commercially viable and often artistically stunning alternative to Hollywood’s juggernaut animation fare.

Having already proved in “Salesman” her ability to develop a film of large public appeal out of a private event – the death of her father from cancer – Sunada was granted near unfettered access to the publicity shy studio and, crucially, to its lifeblood: Director Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” ”My Neighbor Totoro”) who has made most of its most-celebrated films; producer Toshiro Suzuki, and the more enigmatic but influential co-founder and “other director” at Studio Ghibli, Isao Takahata (“My Neighbors The Yamadas”).

Sunada tracks the three men at an exciting and moving time fir Studio Ghibli as they rush to deliver Miyazaki’s “The Wind Rises” and Takahata’s “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” while, last September, Miyazaki announced his retirenent, a decision creating a huge press reaction across the world. The result, GKids said Wednesday night, is an insight into the dreams, passion and singular dedication of these remarkable creators.

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