It’s common in the film industry to hear about an actor, director, or screenwriter receiving an honor or accolade. However, this is the first time an honorary Palme d’Or has been awarded to a group. The Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, is typically given to individual films or filmmakers. This year, on May 19, Studio Ghibli will be receiving its honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio with a strong presence in the industry. While several of its films have been awarded top honors, for the first time, the studio itself will be honored with an honorary award. The studio was founded by renowned Japanese animator and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki.

While Miyazaki is thrilled with the studio being honored with the Palme d’Or, Suzuki believes the animators are not comfortable with being singled out for the honors surrounding his filmmaking. He said for Miyazaki via his translator,

“He knows a large group of people have helped make each one of his films. Miyazaki is typically Japanese, which is to say he is very shy. When he learned this award was for our studio as a group, he was very happy with that. It takes a long time to make his movies, and many people help make the movies.”

While Suzuki and Miyazaki were deferential about the award, Cannes president Iris Knobloch and general delegate Thierry Fremaux were effusive in their statements. They said,

“For the first time in our history, it’s not a person but an institution that we have chosen to celebrate. Like all the icons of the seventh art, these characters populate our imaginations with prolific, colorful universes and sensitive, engaging narrations. With Ghibli, Japanese animation stands as one of the great adventures of cinephilia, between tradition and modernity.”

We can’t agree more with the statement, as it’s indeed true that Studio Ghibli has dominance in the animation world.

How did Studio Ghibli come into existence?

It does indeed feel cathartic to realize that we often receive more and better than we expect. A similar thing happened with Studio Ghibli. When it commenced, the founders just wanted to keep their company afloat and didn’t have their eye on creating the kinds of internationally acclaimed masterpieces that eventually came to define their work. Rather than aiming for something big, they were simply focused on making one film after another.

One of the co-founders of the studio, Suzuki, said,

“We were too busy [to think about those kinds of goals]. We were making the first film, and we thought maybe if we can make this film and it succeeds, then we can make the next film. But we knew that if we fail and the movie is bad or if no one likes it then that was the end of us. So we were just focusing on that first film.”

Studio Ghibli was launched in the 1980s by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. Ever since then, it has become a home for many renowned animated films. It is where Miyazaki made his Oscar-winning 2023 animated feature “The Boy and the Heron,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away,” which was also an Oscar-winner for animated feature and one of the highest-grossing films in Japan’s history.

The studio is also known for the film “My Neighbor Totoro,” which inspired its mascot, a large, rounded spirit whose shape borrows from raccoons, dogs, and cats.

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