A documentary exploring the personal life of acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki will hit US theaters this winter.
Earlier this week, anime distributor GKIDS announced it had secured North American distribution rights for the documentary and is currently preparing for a theatrical release by the end of the year.
The documentary, called Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, will follow the master of anime as he came out of retirement in 2016 to experiment with new animation technology.
However, the documentary won’t just focus on Miyazaki’s professional life. Instead, it’ll also be a personal look at the animator’s life and philosophy, according to GKIDS CEO Eric Beckman.
“GKIDS is excited to be able to share this intimate, unfiltered, and incredibly insightful look at Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, at home and in the studio, as he struggles to complete his latest film,” Beckman said in a statement.
“More than a portrait of a filmmaker, the film is a window into the life, philosophy and essence of an artist in the act of creation.”
At 77-years-old, Miyazaki is arguably Japan’s best-known animator and film director. Since co-founding Studio Ghibli in 1985, he has directed anime classics including Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. In 2001 Spirited Away became the highest grossing film in Japanese history, and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
After decades in the industry, he announced plans to retire after completing The Wind Rises in 2013. The film followed the story of World War II aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi and was intended to be Miyazaki’s last work. The following year, Studio Ghibli’s other co-founder, Isao Takahata, announced he too would be departing the industry. The news prompted speculation the famed studio might be finally closing its doors.
“It’s a sad time in film if we no longer have any Ghibli movies to look forward to,” Nerdist’s Kyle Anderson lamented at the time.
However, Miyazaki couldn’t stay away from animation for long. In 2016, Studio Ghibli and German distributor Wild Bunch released The Red Turtle, which was directed by Dutch filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit. The film was animated by Studio Ghibli after Miyazaki was reportedly impressed by de Wit’s work. It was around this time Miyazaki also announced he was coming out of retirement.
According to GKIDS, since then he has been experimenting with CGI “for the first time.”
Audiences of the upcoming Never-Ending Man will be able to watch on as Miyazaki experiments with this new technology, while also exploring the philosophical values that underpin his work.
Most of Miyazaki’s films feature themes of pacifism overcoming violence and the nuances of the strained relationship between humanity and nature.
According to GKIDS’ Beckman, the documentary is a bittersweet tribute to the anime veteran as he strives to “make something vital.”
We're proud to announce that we have acquired the North American distribution rights to NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI, a documentary directed by Kaku Arakawa. Info at https://t.co/hNwgoWJo3T #NeverEndingMan #HayaoMiyazaki #StudioGhibli pic.twitter.com/Eth9hf0Mp4— GKIDS Films (@GKIDSfilms) September 27, 2018
“Spending this much face time with Miyazaki is a rare treat, for fans and non-fans alike, as we witness in real time the passions, frustrations, irritations, and childlike enthusiasm of an acknowledged legend,” he said.
Never-Ending Man was first released in Japan in late 2016 and arrived in a handful of European countries in 2017. GKIDS is yet to announce an exact release date for American audiences, only stating it’ll arrive in theaters “this winter.”