While at Cannes to accept Ghibli’s Palme d’Or, Goro Miyazaki says “The history of Ghibli is a history of failed generational handovers.”

The Cannes Film Festival is going on now, and as part of the 2024 festivities the French cinematic celebration has done something it’s never done before in its 77-year-history by awarding an honorary Palme d’Or not to an individual but to an entire movie-making organization. That organization? Anime production house Studio Ghibli.

Goro Miyazaki, director of Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill and executive producer for The Boy and the Heron, traveled to the festival to accept the award on behalf of the studio. “I think this is a very happy event for all Ghibli, as a validation of not just the studio, but also the staff indirectly involved [with the studio’s films] through the Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Park too,” Miyazaki said while speaking to reporters.

As is often the case, though, the line of questions quickly pivoted to ones regarding his father, Studio Ghibli co-founder and legendary director Hayao Miyazaki. When Goro was asked how his father had reacted to learning about the honor being bestowed on the studio at Cannes, Goro replied “His feelings seem to be, ‘I don’t really understand what it is, but thank you.’ It doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on him at all.” He went on to elaborate that “In his younger days, even while grumbling about it, he seemed happy when he received awards, but now that he’s over 80 he’s receiving them for things he made in the past, so he doesn’t really seem all that concerned or interested. He’s more focused on what he’s going to do in the years he has left to live. “OK, I got an award, but I’m going to focus on what’s in front of me now,” seems to be his attitude.”

Of course, what Hayao Miyazaki has done for the last several decades is make anime, and Goro revealed something that’s sure to delight Ghibli’s many fans: Hayao Miyazaki apparently hasn’t run out of stories he wants to tell. According to Goro, soon after the release of The Boy and Heron, Hayao Miyazaki began thinking up concepts for his next work. However, he also said that his father is keeping the details a secret. “He won’t tell anyone what they are. Absolutely no one.”

Though Hayao Miyazaki is famed for his perfectionism, Goro says that he’s also fiercely competitive, which is contributing to his secretiveness. “Even at his age, he still thinks of all the other animators around him as rivals. It doesn’t matter if they’re younger than him, if they’re people who supported him while working as his staff, if they’re people who work at Ghibli or at other studios. If they’re animators, they’re rivals, all of them. Since they’re his rivals, he won’t talk to them about his ideas until he’s got the details worked out just right and he can say ‘Yes, this is it!’”

It’s not like Studio Ghibli would be ready to spring into action right now anyway, however. “After spending seven years on an animated movie, the director, and the staff as a whole, are incredibly exhausted,” Goro said, referencing the protracted production of The Boy and the Heron. “I think the studio needs some time to recover.”

As Goro himself alluded to, though, Hayao Miyazaki is by no means a young man, and so he was asked what the post-directing-Hayao Miyazaki future might hold for Ghibli. “I’m not sure at all of what’s going to happen to Ghibli. The history of Ghibli is a history of failed generational handovers, after all.”

That even applies to the Ghibli Museum in a way. “The first time Hayao Miyazaki said he was going to retire was after the release in 1997,” Goro said, reminiscing about the director’s 1997 decision. “The reason talks started about creating the Ghibli Museum was in connection to handing the studio off to a new generation. [Hayao Miyazaki felt] ‘I’ll be retiring [from animating], so all you older animators should retire too. We’ll make a Ghibli Museum, so you’ll have a place to work, so all of you retire with me’…But that’s not how things worked out. So then every time after that, there’d be talk of ‘OK, next time, how do we hand the studio off,’ but when there was an important decision to be made about the studio, Hayao Miyazaki or Toshio Suzuki would end up making it.”

Overall, Goro’s tone is more observational than criticizing. He’s mentioned multiple times that he doesn’t want to take on a role with the sort of all-encompassing direct creative authority that his father has wielded regarding the studio’s animation output, and Goro regularly has his hands full as the primary decision-maker for the Ghibli Museum and Ghibli Park. “I think we’ll be OK once again thinking about what to do next once the two of them [Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki] are no longer around.”

Source: Cinema Today via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
Top image: Studio Ghibli
Insert images: Studio Ghibli (1, 2)
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