Two animated features from Japanese masters have been selected for the 65th edition of the Venice Film Festival: Mamoru Oshii's THE SKY CRAWLERS and Academy Award-winner Hayao Miyazaki's PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA (GAKE NO UE NO PONYO).
The films are in competition for the Golden Lion award at the festival, which will be August 27-September 6 in Venice, Italy.
Oshii is the only Japanese animation director who has had their work selected for competition at both Cannes and Venice. Production I.G.'s THE SKY CRAWLERS will be released in Japan on August 2. Oshii's 1995 film adaptation of famed manga GHOST IN THE SHELL is being remade by Steven Spielberg in the U.S.
THE SKY CRAWLERS is set in another possible "now" -- a world that has eradicated war. Private war contractors enlist fighter pilots known as Kildren to perform in an endless "war as a show" that people watch on TV and read about in the papers. Kildren don't age, and live in a state of eternal adolescence until they die in the sky. When pilot Yuichi Kannami arrives to his new airbase, the only things he recalls are that he's a Kildren and how to operate a fighter plane. Base commander Suito Kusanagi behaves as if she's been impatiently waiting for him. What does Suito know about Yuichi's past? What are the secrets behind the Kildren?
PONYO is the reclusive anime director Miyazaki's latest feature animation; Miyazaki will be making an appearance at Venice. PONYO's hand-drawn animated story follows a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who wants to become human. It was released in Japan on July 19.
Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY won the 2002 Best Animated Feature Oscar and 2004's HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE was nominated for the 2005 Best Animated Feature. SPIRITED AWAY was the first anime film to win an Academy Award.
Go to www.labiennale.org for more details about the Venice Film Festival.