Princess Mononoke

Princess Mononoke

It must have been hard to pick the lead-off film for a festival that celebrates the rightfully famous Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli.

The studio does not deal in duds. 

My Neighbor Totoro (1988, G, 86 mins.) gets the honor during the Studio Ghibli Festival that runs through Aug. 24 at the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano.

Some of the best Studio Ghibli films start with realistic portrayals of characters and then place them in fantastical situations. Two girls move to the country and end up having adventure time with spirits in the forest in My Neighbor Totoro.

Master craftsman Hayao Miyazaki, considered by many to be the world's best animation director, was a co-founder of the animation studio. He directed many of the films in the series.

The festival will screen each film twice. The films will be dubbed in English on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and will be in Japanese with English subtitles on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

The schedule includes: Kiki's Delivery Service; Only Yesterday; Pom Poko; Whisper of the Heart; Princess Mononoke; My Neighbors the Yamadas; Best Animated Feature Oscar winner Spirited Away; The Cat Returns (my favorite); Howl's Moving Castle; From Up on Poppy Hill; and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Tickets are $10 for each film. The Angelika Film Center in Dallas is at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane inside Mockingbird Station; the location in Plano is at 7205 Bishop Road inside the Shops at Legacy.

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