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Toshio Suzuki Talks Ghibli's Future, New Hayao Miyazaki Film Production Update.

After a brief pause, Japan's legendary Studio Ghibli is well and truly back in the business of making movies. First out the door was their first fully CG-animated film, Goro Miyazaki's made-for-TV Earwig and The Witch. But what everyone really wants to know about is the new film from Goro's old man. Hayao Miyazaki is in production on his latest feature How Do You Live?, and in the years since it was announced we've been eagerly eating up every morsel of information about the film we could find.

In an interview with Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki for Sight and Sound Magazine (via ANN) we've got an update on the film's progress. Suzuki says that the film's animation is about halfway finished and that the finished film will run for 125 minutes. He says that he doesn't expect the film to be released for another three years.

Suzuki's comments give us the most solid timescale we've had since production began, as past reports have been vague about how long we'll have to wait to see the master's new opus. At one point, it was mooted that it might release in the same year as the Tokyo Olympics (originally due to be 2020, of course) but that was abandoned long ago. So we have a long time to wait, but a new Miyazaki film is something worth waiting for.

How Do You Live? is described as a hand-drawn action-adventure fantasy that is inspired by the 1937 book of the same name by GenzaburĊ Yoshino. The titular book will have a great significance to the protagonist of the film, who will be a young man called Koperu.

Suzuki revealed that  Miyazaki senior had originally wanted to direct Earwig and The Witch himself, but Suzuki had persuaded him to hand over the reins to Goro.  Suzuki also apparently also convinced Goro to use more traditional 3D CG for Earwig, rather than the cel-shaded style he used for TV series Ronja And The Robber's Daughter.

Excitingly, it was also stated that another, currently unannounced film is in development at the Studio. We have no details on who may be directing the new feature, or if it will be CG or hand-drawn. When discussing the studio's future, Suzuki said that he agrees with a past statement by Goro that the studio should continue to make both hand-drawn and CG films.

The production of Earwig saw an injection of fresh blood into the studio, with Suzuki saying that Goro's team was staffed by younger and more talented people and was much more international than prior Ghibli projects.

The world-famous Studio is facing a "changing of the guards", with Isao Takahata gone and co-founders Hayao Miyazaki and Suzuki getting up there in years.  Fortunately, though, it seems that those being primed to inherit the house that Totoro built are set on honouring the past as they look to the future. And the "old guard" isn't done quite yet.

The full interview by Alex Dudok de Wit can be found in the April edition of Sight And Sound, published by the BFI.