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Hayao Miyazaki in the spotlight

06/12/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Princess Mononoke in the USA - or Buy Princess Mononoke in the UK

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Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro among the Anime movies included in new US TV season.

Turner Classic Movies is turning its January 2006 spotlight on one of Japan's most celebrated filmmakers, animator Hayao Miyazaki, often called the Walt Disney of Japan.

Each Thursday in January, TCM will present Miyazaki animation, each film presented first in its English-dubbed format, with an encore presented with the original Japanese-language track.

The festival kicks off Thursday, Jan. 5th 2006, Miyazaki-san's 65th birthday, with the movie that earned the director the Oscar for Best Animated Film, Spirited Away (2002). TCM's telecast of each movie will be introduced by animation director John Lasseter (Toy Story), who directed the English-language track on Spirited Away.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (airing Jan. 12th 2006 at 8 p.m.) established Miyazaki-san as one of the most talented directors in the burgeoning Japanese animation industry. In 1985, he and Isao Takahata founded Studio Ghibli.

Miyazaki-san reached new heights in 1997, when his film Princess Mononoke (Jan. 5 at 10:15 p.m.) earned more money at the Japanese box office than any film in history. The film subsequently received a wider release in the United States.

In 2002, Miyazaki-san wrote and directed Spirited Away, which went on to become the first animated film ever to win the Golden Bear award at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. After being brought to the United States for wide release, with John Lasseter directing the new English- language track, Spirited Away became the first (and so far only) non-American movie to win an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

In addition to serving as writer and director, Miyazaki-san has also executive-produced films for Studio Ghibli co-founder Takahata-san, including 1991's Only Yesterday (Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.) and 1994's Pom Poko (Jan. 26 at 10:15 p.m.).

Miyazaki-san's most recent film, Howl's Moving Castle, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2004 and went on to become a huge box office hit in Japan. It was released in the United States this past summer, with Lasseter serving as executive producer. Miyazaki-san has claimed it will be his last film as writer-director.

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