Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Hare" to open this year's Toronto International Film Festival

Hayao Miyazaki's latest and possibly last animated feature film, "The Boy and the Hare" (formerly titled "How Do You Live?"), will have its international premiere on September 7, the opening day of this year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

This is a historic event for Toronto. First, the festival has never before chosen an animated feature film as its opening film. Furthermore, this is the first time that a Japanese film will open the 48th edition of the festival.

The selection of "The Boy and the Hare" as this year's opening film is also part of TIFF's plan to introduce Japanese films under the title "POP Japan. This sidebar is programmed to "celebrate the convergence of cult, pulp, and popular in Japanese cinema and art." Miyazaki's films "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Spirited Away" were also selected for the World Retrospective of Animation within the POP Japan showcase.

The Tokyo International Film Festival has a long history of screening Ghibli films. Past films include "The Red Turtle," "Princess Kaguya," "The Wind Rises," "From Puppy Hill," "Spirited Away," and "Princess Mononoke."

Cameron Baily, CEO of TIFF, said in a release: [We are honored to open the 48th Toronto International Film Festival with a film by one of cinema's finest artists. Hayao Miyazaki's new film begins as a simple tale of loss and love and elevates it into a work of extraordinary imagination. I can promise a unique and transformative experience, although I look forward to letting the audience discover the mystery for themselves.

The Boy and the Hare is an original story written and directed by Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, with music by Miyazaki's longtime collaborator Joe Hisaishi. It is Miyazaki's first feature film in 10 years. The film was released in Japan earlier this month and became the biggest box office hit in Studio Ghibli's history.

Studio Ghibli did no marketing, previews, press screenings, or even a trailer for "The Boy and the Hare," so the Toronto screening may bode well for the film's (already strong) commercial prospects in the US. In fact, Studio Ghibli has not even released a synopsis, so the only thing most of the world will know about the story is what Japanese critics have already published. If English-language critics can see the film with subtitles in September, North American audiences will have a better idea of what to expect when GKIDS, Ghibli's longtime North American distributor, finally releases the film later this year.