by Chris MaGee
If you're a fan of anime master Hayao Miyazaki and you live in the Berkley, California area then you are in for a huge treat. Miyazaki will be make a very rare trip to the U.S. on July 25th in order to receive the Berkeley Japan Prize from the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In it's second year the prize honours lifetime achievement for accomplishments in Japanese culture. Last year's recipient was famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami.
This seems kind of strange to me because Miyazaki rarely if ever makes trips to the U.S. I'd heard reasons floating around that the notoriously workaholic animator doesn't want to take that kind of chunk of time that a trip to the States requires. I've also heard that it was because he did not agree with certain aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Regardless, the contract agreement between Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli and Disney apparently requires him to make this trip, so all you Californians count yourselves lucky.
Miyasaki's trip comes just a few weeks after L.A. movie audiences will get a chance to be some of the very first to see the English-dubbed North American release of Miyazaki's "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea" (which is being simplified to "Ponyo" in the U.S. and Canada). The film about a little boy who befriends a goldfish who wants to be a little girl will close the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival on June 28th. The voice talent for this release will include such stars as Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White.
Thanks to Anime News Network for both the news on Miyazaki's visit, and the details on the L.A. screening.