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Belle, the latest animated feature from Oscar-nominated Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Mirari), has won the inaugural Locarno Kids Award, a new prize handed out by the Locarno International Film Festival to honor “someone capable of bringing cinema to young viewers.”
Mamoru Hosoda’s much-awaited new release bowed in Japan on Friday, July 16, topping the box office charts and earning more than $8 million on some 600,000 admissions over its first weekend. The feature follows Suzu, a teenager living with her father in a small town in the mountains who, in a virtual world, is Belle, a musical icon. The movie explores how social media networks are impacting the imaginative lives of even the very youngest in society.
Hosoda is one of Japan’s most acclaimed and successful anime directors, having helmed such features as Digimon: the Movie (2000), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Wolf Children (2012), and Mirari (2018). The latter received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature. His film Summer Wars screened in competition in Locarno in 2009.
Hosoda will receive his Locarno Kids award via video link from Japan on Aug. 3. Following the ceremony, Locarno will hold a public screening of Belle on the Piazza Grande in what will be its Swiss premiere.
Locarno will also pay tribute to the Japanese director with screenings of Wolf Children and The Boy and the Beast (2015) as part of its Locarno Kids Screening sidebar targeting younger viewers.
The festival’s new section is focused on introducing a new generation to classic children and youth films and will include Victor J. Tognola’s Chlorophyll from the Blue Sky (1984), and Buster Keaton’s Go West (1925).
Lynx, a Swiss-French nature documentary from director Laurent Geslin, will also screen as part of the Locarno Kids program.
The 74th Locarno International Film Festival runs Aug. 4-14.
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