The festival said Sunday that “Belle” will have its world premiere in the Cannes Premiere section and play on Thursday July 15.
” ‘Belle’ is the film that I’ve always dreamt to create and that I can make today thanks to the culmination of my previous films,” said Hosoda. “In this one, I explore romance, action, and suspense as well as deeper themes such as life and death. I hope that it will be a big entertaining show.”
The story follows a 17-year-old high school student living in a rural village with her father. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. One day, she enters U, a virtual world of 5 billion members and where she has become Belle, a world-famous singer. She soon meets with a mysterious creature and they embark on a journey of adventures, challenges and love, in their quest to become who they truly are.
The film is Hosoda’s ninth feature after “Wolf Children,” “Summer Wars,” “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” and follows the 2018 Oscar-nominated “Mirai,” which premiered in Cannes’ Director’s Fortnight and received the Annie Award for best animated feature.
Nippon Television handles rights sales for the film in Asia. Paris-based sales company Charades is representing the film in other international markets. Gkids recently acquired rights to the film for North America. It will be released in Japan later this month and in French cinemas on Dec. 29, 2021.
Hosoda and Studio Chizu co-founder Yuichiro Saito are producers on the title. The Japanese creative team worked in collaboration with a roster of international talents. Character designer Jin Kim, the artist (“Moana, Tangled,” “Frozen”) designed the titular Belle. Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar-nominated Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart (“Wolfwalkers,” “The Secret of Kells”) contributed artwork for the various virtual fantasy worlds within the film.
“Belle” is the third animation film presented this year at the Cannes festival after Ari Folman’s “Where is Anne Frank” and “The Summit of the Gods,” by Patrick Imbert.