The Boy and the Hare" Announced for San Sebastián, First Official Images Released

The San Sebastián International Film Festival, Spain's premier film festival and one of the most prestigious in Europe, has announced that Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Hare" will open this year's 71st Cannes International Film Festival on September 22.

"The Boy and the Hare" will make its European debut in San Sebastian and will be the second major Western film festival to open with the latest Studio Ghibli film, following the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.

It is also the first non-Spanish animated film to open in San Sebastián and only the second animated feature film in history to do so. Festival regular Juan José Campanella's Argentine-Spanish co-production Underdogs opened the festival in 2013.

This is not the first time a film by Hayao Miyazaki has been screened in San Sebastián, but this time is different. Spirited Away" and "Ponyo" were each screened at the Velodrome in San Sebastián, while "The Wind Rises" was screened at Perlac in 2013. The Boy and the Hare" will be screened at the center of the festival, the emblematic Kursaal, perched on the Bay of Biscay. In addition, the festival usually opens with either a high-profile Spanish film or an outstanding independent film from around the world.

North American distributor GKIDS has announced that the film will be released sometime this year, but it remains to be seen when American audiences will get a chance to see Miyazaki's latest and possibly last film.

Tickets for the opening gala in San Sebastian will go on sale on September 4.

Update: As we write this article, the New York Film Festival has announced that the U.S. premiere of "The Boy and the Heron" will be held in the Spotlight section. As World War II rages, Mahito, a teenager haunted by the tragic death of his mother, moves from Tokyo to the peaceful country home of his new stepmother Natsuko, who resembles his mother. The gray heron who persistently appears before Mahito as he tries to fit in confounds him by calling him her "long-awaited child." He must journey to an alternate subterranean reality to save Natsuko and perhaps himself.