Japanese anime director Makoto Shinkai's animated feature "Suzume" has been included in the competition lineup for this year's Berlin International Film Festival, which was announced Monday.
The movie, whose Japanese title is "Suzume no Tojimari," (Suzume's Locking Up) is the first Japanese film to compete for the Golden Bear award since 2021, when director Ryusuke Hamaguchi's "Guzen to Sozo" (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy) received the second-most important Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize.
"Suzume" is also the first Japanese animated work in competition in 21 years, since director Hayao Miyazaki's "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi" (Spirited Away) won the Golden Bear award in 2002.
The winner will be announced Feb. 26, the last day of the 73rd Berlinale.
"Suzume," which is about a high school girl who embarks on a journey to "lock out" natural disasters, has been showing in Japanese theaters since last November.
It is the first time that a Shinkai-directed movie has been entered in the Berlinale.
"The story is rooted in the huge event that happened in Japan 12 years ago," Shinkai said in a statement, referring to the March 2011 major earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan. "I was given the opportunity to see for myself how the outside world views our creation."