Magazine article Screen International

Spirited Away' (2001) - Screen's 40 at 40

Magazine article Screen International

Spirited Away' (2001) - Screen's 40 at 40

Article excerpt

Director: Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)

On screening in competition at the Berlinale in 2002, the initial response to Spirited Away among distributors and critics was one of bafflement. No-one could understand why a Japanese cartoon aimed at children was being shown alongside heavyweight arthouse films.

Will Clarke, the boss of UK independent distributor Optimum Releasing, had a different reaction. He rushed to its French sales agent Wild Bunch to acquire the film as soon as possible.

What Clarke spotted was that the work of venerable director Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli, could both please the critics and find a mass international audience. Optimum would never normally be in the position to compete with US studio animation, but Clarke had found a lucrative niche. …

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