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Miss Hokusai Wins Three Awards at Fantasia 2015

Tokyo, August 6, 2015

Keiichi Hara new animated feature film, "Miss Hokusai" was greeted with the Satoshi Kon Award for best animated feature film, the Gold Audience Award for best animated feature film, and the Sequences Award for best Asian feature film at the 19th Fantasia International Film Festival (Fantasia 2015), held in Montreal, Canada from July 14 to August 5, 2015. "Miss Hokusai" was invited as the festival's opening film, and the screening in Montreal marked the film's North American premiere.

(The Sequences Award is given by an independent jury formed by three film critics from the prestigious Quebecois film magazine "Sequences", published since 1955)

In receiving the news from Montreal, director Keiichi Hara commented as follows: "When I was in Montreal for the screening of Miss Hokusai as opening film, I was overwhelmed by the heat wave generated by the crowd of passionate moviegoers that was sitting in front of me. It felt like being at a rock concert. So it was a great joy for all of us when we heard that eventually our film was so kindly considered by that wonderful audience. Thank you!"

With nearly 130,000 attendees, Fantasia Film Festival is North America's premiere and largest genre film festival, taking place in the city of Montreal, and was the first member of the European Fantastic Film Festivals Federation outside of Europe. It has been described by Quentin Tarantino as "The most important and prestigious genre film festival on this continent."

Last June, "Miss Hokusai" won the Jury Award at the 39th Annecy Animation Film Festival.

"Miss Hokusai" is based on the original manga, "Sarusuberi" (literally: Crape Myrtle) by Hinako Sugiura, and it is scripted by Miho Maruo ("Colorful"). Main staff includes character designer and chief animator Yoshimi Itazu ("Dennō Coil," "The Wind Rises," "Dreaming Machine") and background artist Hiroshi Ono ("A Letter to Momo," "Wolf Children"). "Miss Hokusai" was released theatrically in Japan on May 9, 2015, and will open in cinemas in France on September 2, followed by UK, Germany, Spain, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Actress and model Anne (杏) debuted as voice actress in animation in the role of Hokusai's daughter O-Ei, and the ending song "Donde quiere estar mi alma viajera?" is written and performed by rock singer Sheena Ringo.

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, Van Gogh 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 and outspoken woman overshadowed by her larger-than-life father, unfolding through the changing seasons.

Keiichi Hara (1959) worked extensively on popular family and children TV animated shows, such as "Doraemon" and especially "Crayon Shin-chan." He also scripted ten "Crayon Shin-chan" movies, directing six. The 2001 Shin-chan franchise movie, entitled "Crayon Shin-chan: Impetuous! The Adult Empire Strikes Back" earned wide critical praise, and raised his profile. The following year's "Crayon Shin-chan: Brilliant! The Great Battle of the Warring States" was recommended by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and won five awards in Japan. Hara then shifted to independent filmmaking, pursuing more personal projects. International recognition came with Japan Academy Prize-winning "Summer Days with Coo" (2007) and especially with "Colorful" (2010), greeted with the Jury's Special Distinction and the Audience Award at Annecy 2011. Hara admires classic Japanese filmmakers such as Yasujiro Ozu and Keisuke Kinoshita. To the latter, he dedicated his first live-action movie in 2013, "Dawn of a Filmmaker: The Keisuke Kinoshita Story." He doesn't own a computer or a mobile phone.

Hinako Sugiura (1958-2005) was a manga artist and researcher in the lifestyles and customs of Japan's Edo period. Her distinctive style and unique storytelling made her win the Japan Cartoonists Association Award for "Gasso" (Joint Burial, 1984) and the Bungei Shunju 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. Her manga, "Sarusuberi" on which "Miss Hokusai" is based, was published between 1983 and 1987, and gained cult status since then for the vivid portrayal of Hokusai's daughter.

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 recently with its inspiring and multi-awarded animated dramas such as "Oblivion Island" (2009), "A Letter to Momo" (2012), and "Giovanni's Island" (2014) I.G has gained high reputation around the globe, inspiring Hollywood creators such as James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowskis.

Official Website: http://www.production-ig.com

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