Makoto Shinkai’s latest pic Suzume is the first Japanese animated picture to play in competition at Berlin in two decades. However, Shinkai told a press conference in Berlin that a successful festival run has never been high on his list of priorities.
“I want to entertain an audience with this film. From the beginning, my objective was to reach a large number of people. A large audience.” Shinkai said.
“I want to entertain the audience. Even if, for example, this film wasn’t shown at any festival, I don’t think it would’ve been so bad because what I wanted was to get lots of young people to see this film.”
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Shinkai later added that the price of a cinema ticket in his native Japan is “very expensive,” so when making Suzume, he was determined to guarantee that the anime was worth the hassle for audiences.
“I wanted to make sure the film is entertaining so that nobody regretted spending so much money to go to the cinema. That was important to me,” he said.
The last animated Japanese film to debut in competition at Berlin was Hayao Miyazaki’s cult classic Spirited Away in 2001. Miyazaki went on to win the Golden Bear that year, a memory Shinkai told the press conference he remembers well.
“I had just started my career as a director in animation, and that was when Mr. Hayao got the Golden Bear. I was really impressed that this film was so recognized outside of Japan,” he said. “I find it quite hard to believe that I’m now sitting here.”
Written and directed by Shinkai, the pic is an epic animated road movie that follows a 17-year-old girl named Suzume who joins forces with a young man to track down and close a series of mysterious supernatural portals that are popping up and releasing natural disasters all over in Japan.
The film debuted in Japan last year and was the third-biggest title at the local box office, earning over $100 million. After its debut in Berlin, the film will roll out to international markets.
Crunchyroll will release the film in North America, followed by Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East with Sony Pictures Entertainment. Wild Bunch International has partnered with the company to release in French and German territories.
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