Production I.G's Miss Hokusai Wins Annecy's Jury Award
posted on by Egan Loo
Miss Hokusai, the new film from Production I.G (A Letter to Momo, Giovanni's Island), received the Jury Award in the Official Feature Film Competition at the 39th Annecy International Animation Film Festival on Saturday. Established in 1960, Annecy is the world's oldest and largest animation film festival. This year, it ran from June 15 to June 20 at the French community of the same name.
The Jury Award is the highest honor in the Official Feature Film Competition after the Cristal for a Feature Film. Miss Hokusai competed against The Case of Hana & Alice (Hana to Alice Satsujin Jiken), Shunji Iwai's animated prequel to his 2004 coming-of-age film Hana & Alice. The winner of the Cristal was the French/Canadian/Belgian production Avril et le Monde truque from directors Franck Ekinci and Christian Desmares. Remi Chaye's Danish/French film Tout en haut du monde won the Audience Award.
There were no other Japanese winners this year. The "Food Chain" episode of Adventure Time by director Masaaki Yuasa (Ping Pong, Kick-Heart, The Tatami Galaxy) competed in the TV Films category. Yusuke Sakamoto's "The Night of the Naporitan" competed in the Short Films category. Mirai Mizue and Yukie Nakauchi's Shūgo Tokumaru "Poker" competed in the Commissioned Films category.
Production I.G describes the story of Miss Hokusai:
The time: 1814.
The place: Edo, now known as Tokyo. One of the highest populated cities in the world, teeming with peasants, samurai, townsmen, merchants, nobles, artists, courtesans, and perhaps even supernatural things.
A much accomplished artist and now in his mid-fifties, Tetsuzo can boast clients from all over Japan, and tirelessly works in the garbage-loaded chaos of his house-atelier. He spends his days creating astounding pieces of art, from a giant-size Dharma portrayed on a 180 square meter-wide sheet of paper, to a pair of sparrows painted on a tiny rice grain. Short-tempered, utterly sarcastic, fond of sweets but with no passion for sake or money, he would charge a fortune for any job he is not willing to undertake.
Third of Tetsuzo's four daughters, outspoken 23-year-old O-Ei has inherited her father's talent and stubbornness, and very often she would paint instead of him, though uncredited. “We're father and daughter; with two brushes and four chopsticks, we'll get by anywhere.”
Decades later, Europe was going to discover Tetsuzo's immense talent. He was to become best known by one of his many names: Katsushika Hokusai. He would mesmerize Degas and Monet, Debussy and Baudelaire.
However, very few today are even aware of the woman who assisted him all her life, and greatly contributed to his art while remaining uncredited.
This is the untold story of O-Ei, Master Hokusai's daughter: a lively portrayal of a free-spirited and outspoken woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father, unfolding through the changing seasons.
The film by Keiichi Hara (Summer Days with Coo, Colorful) adapts Hinako Sugiura's acclaimed historical manga Sarusuberi (literally: Crape Myrtle). Anne Watanabe stars in the role of O-Ei, daughter of acclaimed ukiyo-e painter Hokusai.
Other cast members include: Yutaka Matsushige (live-action Kodoku no Gourmet television series, live-action Detective Conan movie), Gaku Hamada (live-action Space Brothers movie), Kengo Kōra (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, live-action Solanin movie), Jun Miho (live-action Dragon Zakura television series), Shion Shimizu (Ganbare! Lulu Lolo - Tiny Twin Bears), Michitaka Tsutsui (live-action Kiki's Delivery Service movie), Kumiko Asou (Colorful, live-action Casshern movie, live-action Space Brothers movie), and Danshun Tatekawa.
Sugiura made her manga debut in 1980 in the experimental magazine Garo, and made her mark with intricately researched historical stories about Japan's Edo period. Her unique storytelling won the Japan Cartoonists' Association Award in 1984 and the Bunshun Manga Award in 1988. She serialized Sarusuberi in Manga Sunday magazine (Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha, Ltd.) from 1983 to 1987. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 46.
Hara worked for years on the Crayon Shin-chan television anime series before garnering critical attention for such films as Crayon Shin-chan: Arashi o Yobu Appare! Sengoku Daikassen (Crayon Shin-chan; Brilliant! The Great Battle of the Warring States) and Summer Days with Coo. He earned the Jury's Special Distinction and the Audience Award for the bittersweet film Colorful at Annecy 2011. He has since made his first live-action film, a 2013 biography about the Japanese filmmaker Keisuke Kinoshita.
Miho Maruo (Colorful, The Dog of Flanders, Kodocha) wrote the screenplay of Miss Hokusai, and Yoshimi Itazu (The Wind Rises, Dennō Coil, planned Yume-Miru Kikai film by the late Satoshi Kon) is serving as character designer and chief animator. Hiroshi Ohno (A Letter to Momo, Wolf Children) is handling the background art.
The film opened in Japan on May 9, and Production I.G is handling worldwide distribution and sales. Anime Limited will release the film in British cinemas in October-November before releasing it on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. EUROZOOM has licensed the film in France, and the company will screen it starting on September 2.