Japan's Studio Ghibli receives honorary Palme d'Or in Cannes

Goro Miyazaki (centre-left) arrives to receive the honorary Palme (Antonin THUILLIER)
Goro Miyazaki (centre-left) arrives to receive the honorary Palme (Antonin THUILLIER)

Legendary Japanese animators Studio Ghibli on Monday became the first collective to receive an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Oscar-winning studio, founded 40 years ago, is beloved worldwide for masterpieces like "My Neighbor Totoro", "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle".

Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, 83, did not attend the French festival, but his son Goro Miyazaki received the award, which is typically bestowed on individuals.

"I would like to thank all the fans worldwide," he said on stage after receiving the honour, before attendees were treated to four short films from the wildly imaginative collective.

Among them was 2002's "Mei and the Baby Cat Bus," billed as a "mini-sequel" to Hayao Miyazaki's 1989 classic "My Neighbor Totoro".

In "Mr. Dough and the Egg Princess", a giant gloop of dough helps a tiny egg in a pink dress escape a ravenous witch.

"House Hunting" and "Boro the Caterpillar" -- the second starring a tiny grub munching on leaves -- featured amusing human voiceovers for everything from a friendly river monster to squeaky bicycles.

All were welcomed with good-natured laughter.

"Today you have given the Studio Ghibli encouragement for the next 40 years," Goro Miyazaki said after the screening.

Hayao Miyazaki has announced his retirement more than once, but he continues to work and was back in cinemas last year with "The Boy and the Heron".

He appeared on the big screen in a video to say: "Thank you very much".

"The Boy and the Heron" won an Oscar this year and Goro Miyazaki said the studio had to wrap the statuette in a hotel towel to fly it home safely from the United States.

He said he was really glad the honorary Palme had a box.

Meryl Streep received an honorary Palme at the festival's opening and George Lucas, creator of "Star Wars", is to receive the accolade at the closing ceremony on Saturday.

may-ah/rlp