Studio Ghibli Film Series to Launch ‘Film School’ Program at Sunrise Theater | Characteristics

The Sunrise will screen a series of animated Studio Ghibli films from acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki on Thursdays in April. The series will include “My Neighbor Totoro”, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, “Spirited Away”, and “Howl’s Moving Castle”.

Before each screening, there will be a short presentation to put into context the importance of these films and a competition where the winners will be selected from the public. Series sponsors include Sandhills Community College, Alyson, Will and Susan Grine, Susa Sushi and Create Studio.

The series serves as a jumping-off point for larger programming that will take place in both Sunrise’s main auditorium and the Loft space above the theater. This program, which will be known as the Film School, will feature everything from mainstream releases like Studio Ghibli films, to Kurosawa, to even more obscure titles from the French New Wave. It seeks to give the viewer information and context on how these films were the inspiration and building blocks for many things we see in modern cinema.

The series begins Thursday, April 7 with “My Neighbor Totoro.” This 1988 film centers on two young girls who move into an old house in the countryside to be closer to their mother who is recovering from an illness in the hospital. In their exploration of their new surroundings, they find a variety of spirits, including sentient mites, a cat that’s also a bus, and, of course, a large, fluffy forest creature named Totoro. Duration 86 minutes. This film is sponsored by Sandhills Community College.

The series continues with the 1989 film, “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, on Thursday, April 14. This film, centered on 13-year-old Kiki, is a coming-of-age tale about confidence and self-reliance. The young witch Kiki, according to the tradition of her village, spends a year alone in town. She sets up a flying delivery service on her broomstick. She must overcome self-doubt when her confidence wavers and her powers wane. Duration 102 minutes. This film is sponsored by Alyson, Will and Susan Grine.

On Thursday, April 21, there will be a screening of “Spirited Away,” first released in 2001. It’s probably the series’ most recognizable title for American viewers. This film, which was a critical success in the United States, features the 10-year-old protagonist Chihiro. Chihiro and her family stumble upon a deserted amusement park. Unbeknownst to them, they found themselves in the spirit realm at a complex for weary spirits in the earth realm. Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs and she must work in the station to free her and her parents. Duration 125 minutes. This movie is sponsored by Susa Sushi.

The series concludes Thursday, April 28 with 2004’s “Howl’s Moving Castle.” Timely in its anti-war message, “Howl’s Moving Castle” follows Sophie, who is a hatter and the older sister of three siblings in a fictional kingdom where magic and technology coexist. Sophie meets the wizard Howl and finds herself caught up in her mission to stop the impending war with a neighboring kingdom. The Trash Witch is unhappy with Sophie’s new relationship with Howl and ages her into a 90-year-old woman. Howl and Sophie must now work together to break the curse. Duration 119 minutes. This film is sponsored by Create Studio.

Screenings of the Studio Ghibli animated film series take place Thursdays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or in advance at the Sunrise Theater box office, online at or by calling (910) 692-3611.

The Sunrise Theater, located at 250 NW Broad Street in downtown Southern Pines, is a thriving entertainment center featuring first-run and independent films, music concerts, local theater and live Met broadcasts. Opera and the Bolshoi Ballet. The Sunrise Theater continues to be the cornerstone of theater arts and entertainment in the North Carolina Sandhills, dedicated to serving the community.

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