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Cannes: Japan’s Mamoru Hosoda Sets New Animated Film ‘Mirai’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 5/16/2017 Elsa Keslassy
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Mamoru Hosoda, the Japanese director of hit animated feature “The Boy and the Beast,” is reuniting with high-profile banner Studio Chizu for his next film, “Mirai.” The film will be represented at the Cannes Film Festival by Charades.

“Mirai” follows a 4-year old boy who is struggling to cope with the arrival of a little sister in the family, until things turn magical. A mysterious garden in the backyard of the boy’s home becomes a gateway allowing the child to travel back in time and encounter his mother as a little girl and his great-grandfather as a young man. These fantasy-filled adventures allow the child to change his perspective and help him become the big brother he was meant to be.

Charades is the new international sales banner that was recently launched by Carole Baraton, former head of sales at Wild Bunch, Yohann Comte, former deputy head of sales at Gaumont, and Pierre Mazars, former sales manager at StudioCanal. Comte handled sales on “The Boy and The Beast” when the film was represented by Gaumont.

Nippon TV will release the film in Japan. The movie is expected to be completed in May 2018.

“There is a common thread in the themes of my films: ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’ was about youth, ‘Summer Wars’ was about family, ‘Wolf Children,’ ‘Ame’ and ‘Yuki’ were about motherhood,” Hosoda told Variety. “‘The Boy and The Beast’ was about the father, and my new film is about the relationship between brothers and sisters. ‘Mirai’ is about a boy who is trying to reclaim the love of his parents.”

The Japanese director said that the project is highly personal, and was inspired by his own experience as a father of two young children. But the film is also meant to have a universal appeal, like Hosoda’s previous films. “I always strive to make films that have a universal dimension in the choice of subjects and even the dialogue,” said Hosoda. Mirai (future in English) is the first name of the sister character in the film, as well as Hosoda’s daughter.

In Japan, Hosoda has often been tipped as a successor to animation giant Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli group. That promise appeared to be fulfilled when Hosoda’s “Beast” earned $49 million in 2015 at the Japanese box office and the film racked up a large haul of international sales. Last year’s Tokyo International Film Festival dedicated a special screening section to his work.

“I never had the opportunity to have a drink or a meal just with my father — he was hardly ever at home and as a father his existence was ambiguous,” he said from the stage in Tokyo last October.

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