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‘The Sky Crawlers’ to compete at Venice

TOKYO (TR) – Japanese animation studio Production I.G announced this week that its animated feature “The Sky Crawlers” will compete for the Golden Lion Award at the 65th Venice Film Festival.

Directed by Mamoru Oshii (“Ghost in the Shell”) and based on the best-selling novel by Hiroshi Mori (800,000 copies in print in Japan), the film tells the story of a fantasy world in which children living in perpetual adolescence are enlisted to pilot fighter planes for the public’s entertainment.

In an interview late last year, producer Tomohiko Ishii said that unlike many live action and animation features released today this film depicts the reality that many young people are living in. “As director Mamoru Oshii felt that he had a message he wanted to communicate to today’s youngsters,” Isshii said, “he decided to work with an up-and-coming scriptwriter like Chihiro Ito, which adopting a new directorial style so that his message could reach the audience he had in mind.”

The Sky Crawlers
“The Sky Crawlers”

The film’s score was written by one of Oshii’s long-time collaborators, Kenji Kawai (“Ghost in the Shell” and “Death Note”). The voice cast includes Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel”) and Chiaki Kuriyama (“Kill Bill: Vol. 1”).

From a technical perspective, Ishii said that the film blends 2-D and 3-D animation techniques that are highly innovative. “While 2-D and 3-D animation techniques are becoming overly saturated in the current animation industry, it may seem too challenging to get the best use out of the two techniques. However, it could also mean that this movie will launch itself as the pioneer of a completely new type of animation.”

At the Venice Film Festival, which will run between August 27th and September 6th, “The Sky Crawlers” will be joined by “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” the latest release by Hayao Miyazaki (“Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away”) of studio Ghibli. The two features are the only animated films in the 21-film lineup. Also representing Japan will be “Achilles and the Tortoise,” by director Takeshi Kitano (“Violent Cop”).

‘The Sky Crawlers’ will open on 230 screens in Japan on August 2nd.

Update: “The Sky Crawlers” will be screened at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival, which will be held between September 4 and 13.