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The official website for the Asian Pacific Screen Awards announced on Friday that Studio Ghibli's From Up On Poppy Hill, Hiroyuki Okiura's A Letter to Momo, Toei's Rainbow Fireflies (Niji-Iro Hotaru ~Eien no Natsu Yasumi~), and Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children films are nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at this year's awards in Australia.
Goro Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's From Up On Poppy Hill follows a group of Yokohama teens in their quest against a wrecking ball that threatens to destroy their school's clubhouse in preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. North American distributor GKids has acquired the rights the film. GKids will have an Oscar-qualifying run in Southern California later this year, then it will release the film in Los Angeles and New York on March 15. "Big cities" will then receive the film in the following two weeks, and still more cities the week after. GKids will then release From Up On Poppy Hill on Blu-ray Disc and DVD.
A Letter to Momo follows a girl named Momo who struggles with her father's sudden passing and her move to the countryside. Momo finds an otherworldly surprise at her new home. The film held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011, and it opened in Japan on April 21. The film received the Grand Prize for Best Feature Film at this year's New York International Children's Film Festival, won the main prize in the "Feature film" category at the Czech AniFest, and competed at France's Annecy film festival in June. GKids will release the film in theaters in 2013 to qualify for the Academy Awards that will be held in early 2014.
Rainbow Fireflies, based on Masayuki Kawaguchi's 2007 novel, follows a sixth-grade boy named Yūta (Akashi Takei) on his summer vacation. His father passed away one year ago in a traffic accident, and Yūta now goes alone to visit a place where he and his father once shared memories. The two had gone often to an unused dam deep in the mountains to collect the rhinoceros beetles nearby. Yūta suddenly receives a shock in a thunderstorm, loses his footing, and gets knocked out. When he wakes up, he see a small girl and a village — except this village is the one that should be submerged below the dam. Yūta realizes that he slipped back time to over thirty years ago, before the dam was completed. Another summer vacation, and another chance for Yūta to reclaim what cannot be reclaimed, begins. The film opened in Japan on May 19 and screened at France's Annecy film festival in June.
Wolf Children is the latest film by the director of Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The film's story covers 13 years and begins with a 19-year-old college student named Hana who encounters and falls in "fairy tale-like" love with a "wolf man." After marrying the wolf man, Hana gives birth and raises two wolf children — an older sister named Yuki ("snow") who was born on a snowy day, and a younger brother named Ame ("rain") who was born on a rainy day. When the wolf man suddenly dies, Hana decides to move to a rural town far removed from the city. The film opened in Japan on July 21. Funimation announced last weekend that it will release the film theatrically and on home video in North America next year.
The four films are competing alongside the Happy Feet Two animated film for the award.
Makoto Shinkai's Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below and Erik Khoo's Tatsumi film based on the life of manga creator Yoshihiro Tatsumi were both nominated for the award last year, but the prize went to Oh Seongyun's Leafie (Madangeul Naon Amtak) film.
The sixth annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards will take place on November 23 in Brisbane, and the ceremony will be broadcast live online.