Program

Retrospective

Grave of the Fireflies

Japan

1988

Introduction

Seita is 14 years old, Setsuko is 4.

Two lives that are like fleeting light in a fire-ravaged field.
It is towards the end of the Pacific war. Seita and Setsuko, brother and sister, live in Kobe. Having lost their parents’ house in an air raid, they are sent to live with relatives. But not wanting to be a burden, they decide to build their own shelter, without any help from the grown-ups. They dream of a free-spirited life together, just the two of them. But what awaits them are far harder days than they imagined in their innocence.

 

© 野坂昭如/新潮社, 1988

Director

Isao Takahata

Born in 1935 in Mie Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from The University of Tokyo with a degree in French literature, he joined Toei Animation Company. He debuted as a director with the animated TV series KEN, THE WILD BOY (1963 – 1965), and directed his first animated feature film, THE LITTLE NORSE PRINCE VALIANT (1968). He left Toei in 1971 and worked at various studios and directed TV series including HEIDI A GIRL OF THE ALPS (1974), MARCO, FROM THE APENNINES TO THE ANDES (1976), and ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1979), and feature films such as DOWNTOWN STORY (1981) and GAUCHE THE CELLIST (1981).

Takahata co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with Hayao Miyazaki, and has directed five feature films since: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (1988), ONLY YESTERDAY (1991), POM POKO (1994), which received the Feature Film Prize at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 1995, MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS (1999), which was chosen by The Museum of Modern Art in New York for its film collection, the first Japanese animated feature film to be so honored, and his latest film, THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (2013), nominated for the 2014 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. He served as producer for Hayao Miyazaki’s films NAUSICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND (1984) and CASTLE IN THE SKY (1986), and artistic producer for Michael Dudok de Wit’s THE RED TURTLE (2016).

In 1998, Takahata received Japan’s Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon. He was awarded with the Honorific Leopard at the 2009 Locarno International Film Festival and the Special Cristal Award for lifetime achievement at the 2014 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. In April 2015, He received the “Officier” of the Order of Arts and Letters, France. He received the 2015 Winsor McCay Award of the Annie Awards. On April 5, 2018, Takahata passed away at the age of 82.