Keiichi Hara's Miss Hokusai Wins Jury Award at Annecy 2015

Keiichi Hara's MISS HOKUSAI wins JURY AWARD at ANNECY 2015

Keiichi Hara ("Summer Days with Coo", "Colorful") new animated feature film, "Miss Hokusai" was greeted in Annecy with the Jury Award, that was decided unanimously with the following motivation:
"For the magnificent celebration of an independent woman and the power of art and creativity."
In receiving the trophy, Hara dedicated the recognition to the late author of the original comic book the film is based upon, Hinako Sugiura: "I hope you can see this from where you are. We did it!"

Keiichi Hara's previous animated film, "Colorful" (2010) won the Jury Distinction and the Audience Award in Annecy in 2011. This year, the festival received 2605 entries from 95 countries, of which 73 were feature films. "Miss Hokusai" was one of the 8 titles that made it into Annecy's feature films official competition, and the screening at Annecy was film's international premiere.

"Miss Hokusai", that marks the first collaboration between Hara and Tokyo-based studio Production I.G ("Ghost in the Shell", "A Letter to Momo", "Giovanni's Island") is based on the original manga, "Sarusuberi" (Crape Myrtle) by Hinako Sugiura, and it is scripted by Miho Maruo ("Colorful"). The main staff includes character designer and chief animator Yoshimi Itazu ("The Wind Rises", "Dreaming Machine") and background artist Hiroshi Ono ("A Letter to Momo", "Wolf Children").

"Miss Hokusai" was released in Japan on May 9 this year, and it is slated for theatrical release in France on September 2, and has secured distribution deals for UK, German-Speaking Europe, Spain, Portugal and Hong Kong. It will have its North American premiere as opening film at the forthcoming Montreal's 19th Fantasia Film Festival on July 14th.

STORY 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 of his time 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, with no passion for sake or money, he would charge a fortune for any job he is not seriously willing to undertake.
Third of Tetsuzo's four daughters and born out of his second marriage, 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. Her art is so powerful that sometimes leads to trouble. "We're father and daughter; with two brushes and four chopsticks, we'll get by anywhere."
Decades later, Europe was going to discover the immense talent of Tetsuzo. He was to become best known by one of his many names: Katsushika Hokusai. He would mesmerize Degas and Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt, Edmond de Goncourt and Debussy.
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 woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father, unfolding through the changing seasons.

Original Story: Hinako Sugiura (from the manga "Sarusuberi")
Screenplay: Miho Maruo (Colorful)
Chief Animator: Yoshimi Itazu (The Wind Rises)
Background Art: Hiroshi Ono (A Letter to Momo)
Directed by: Keiichi Hara (Colorful)
Animation: Production I.G (A Letter to Momo, Giovanni's Island)
Presented by: Sarusuberi Film Partners

Hinako Sugiura (1958-2005) was a manga artist and researcher in the lifestyles and customs of Japan's Edo period. Her distinctive style unique storytelling made her win the Japan Cartoonists Association Award for Gasso (Joint Burial, 1984) and the Bungei Shunj? Manga Award for Furyu Edo Suzume (A Refined Edo Sparrow, 1988). She also wrote numerous essays, and frequently appeared in the media as an expert on the period. The manga, Sarusuberi on which MISS HOKUSAI is based, was published between 1983 and 1987, and gained cult status ever since for its insightful portrayal of O-Ei, Hokusai's daughter. She passed away in 2005 after a long fight with illness.

Keiichi Hara (1959) has worked extensively on popular family and children animated shows, such as "Doraemon" and "Crayon Shin-chan." His 2002 Shin-chan movie, "Crayon Shin-chan: Brilliant! The Great Battle of the Warring States" (2002) was recommended by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs. Hara then shifted to independent filmmaking, pursuing more personal projects. International recognition came with Japan Academy Prizes-winner "Summer Days with Coo" (2007) and especially with "Colorful" (2010), greeted with the Jury's Special Distinction and the Audience Award at Annecy 2011. Both movies received theatrical distribution in France and other countries. Hara admires classic Japanese filmmakers such as Keisuke Kinoshita, to whom he dedicated his first live-action movie in 2013, Dawn of a Filmmaker: The Keisuke Kinoshita Story.

Established by Mitsuhisa Ishikawa in 1987, Production I.G is one of the world's leading animation studios. With its cutting-edge works, such as "Ghost in the Shell" (1995), "Jin-Roh" (2000), "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2000), "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" (animation segment, 2003), "Innocence" (2004),
"The Sky Crawlers" (2008), and heart warming family feature films such as "Oblivion Island" (2009), "A Letter to Momo" (2012) and "Giovanni's Island," I.G has gained high reputation around the globe, inspiring Hollywood creators such as James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowskis.

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