• Kyodo


“Spirited Away,” the critically acclaimed work by Hayao Miyazaki, received an Academy Awards nomination Tuesday in the Best Animated Feature Film category, while Koji Yamamura’s “Mt. Head” was nominated in the animated short film category.

“Spirited Away,” which has already claimed various honors in the United States, including a prize at the prestigious Annie Awards, is believed to have a good chance of winning at the 75th Academy Awards on March 23.

The movie, whose Japanese title is “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi,” was nominated by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle.

The Studio Ghibli blockbuster, which set box-office records in Japan, hit North American theaters Sept. 20. It has grossed $5.5 million in North America, showing at 151 theaters.

The movie tells the story of Chihiro, a 10-year-old girl who tries to rescue her parents from a spell that turned them into pigs.

It is up against four American movies: “Lilo & Stitch,” “Ice Age,” “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” and “Treasure Planet.”

“Lilo & Stitch” tells the story of a Hawaiian girl who adopts a pet that turns out to be an extraterrestrial fugitive. In “Ice Age,” a sabertooth tiger, a sloth and a woolly mammoth find a human baby and try to return him to his tribe.

“Spirit” is the story of a wild stallion who travels wild frontiers, while “Treasure Planet” is a Disney adaptation of “Treasure Island” set in outer space.

In the animated short category, “Mt. Head” is a 10-minute contemporary take on a traditional “rakugo” comic tale titled “Atama-yama,” set in Tokyo.

Yamamura, 38, has made short animated films for children and TV commercials, and has illustrated books.

On hearing the news, Yamamura said he is glad that a “small film like this” has been nominated.

He said “Mt. Head” marks a new beginning in his career as a maker of animated films.

Animated festival

The Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will host a weeklong international forum on Japanese animated films and “manga” comics, beginning March 10.

The event is under ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year 2003.

With Japanese-style animated films and manga having penetrated Southeast Asian markets, organizers voiced hope that the forum will deepen cultural understanding between Japan and ASEAN countries.

The gathering is also expected to explore the potential of animated films and manga as a common language in terms of cultural and artistic expression.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The forum, which will be held at the Marunouchi Building in Chiyoda Ward, will feature showings of animated films and a display of original manga produced by Japanese and ASEAN artists.

The first day will feature a discussion involving Susan Napier, a professor of Japanese literature and culture at the University of Texas, and Yoshiyuki Tomino, creator of the popular animation series “Mobile Suit Gundam.”

The forum will accept a limited public audience for the Napier-Tomino panel talk and the symposium on a first-come, first-served basis.

Details are available at (03) 3465-6280 or on the Web at www.cgarts.or.jp/forum/

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