Thursday, August 31, 2017

PSA: Our Fairy Tale Newsroom's 2017 Summer Operating Schedule



Just a brief notice to let our regulars know that our Fairy Tale Newsroom will be open but not running at full capacity for the next little while.

Never fear: we will still post regularly during the week -as we can manage- from various locations.

We will resume our mostly-daily-or-more postings as soon as we all return to the OUABlog Headquarters, and our Fairy Tale News Hound is back in the office fulltime, for the per diem routine of news sourcing, sorting, researching and reporting (which we expect to coincide with the new school year/next semester commencement in late August... -ish).

Please note: Answering mail, however, is likely to be more delayed than usual.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Review (Theater): ‘The Woodsman’

Note from The Fairy Tale News Room: This review has been a long time in coming (all due to a kaffufle in our fairy tale newsroom, for which we apologize). HUGE thanks to razorfriend for this intriguing overview and insight into a play we've been ultra-curious about for some time.
We're including a trailer to give you a quick overview before we get into the wonderfully detailed article below:
'The Woodsman' (Broadway HD)
Review by razorfriend

‘The Woodsman’ played a few runs in New York City in recent years before ultimately closing in May 2016. Online streaming service BroadwayHD is now offering a video recording of the play as part of its catalogue; this review is of the recorded performance.

(Warning: This review is rather spoiler-heavy, as I’m assuming many readers of this review will already be familiar with the story told.)

Anyone who’s read ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ will be familiar with the tragic backstory of the Tin Woodman character: human woodcutter Nick Chopper falls in love with the beautiful Nimmee, slave of the Wicked Witch of the East. In order to destroy Nimmee’s chance for a different life, the Witch curses Nick’s axe so that it repeatedly turns against him as he chops wood, progressively amputating various parts of his body. Nick gets replacement body parts made of tin and carries on, but as time goes by he gradually gets Robocopped to such an extent that eventually every part of him has been replaced by tin. He thereby loses his heart, and with it loses the last vestiges of his humanity… or does he? (This story is primarily covered in the first ‘Oz’ book, but ‘Oz’ series fans will notice that the show has incorporated a retcon that Baum added to the story later on.)

‘The Woodsman’ play uses largely low-tech theatrical techniques, such as puppetry and live sound effects, to tell and expand this tale. The talented young cast, crew and musician (violinist Naomi Florin) work seamlessly together in animating multi-operator puppets, generating other visual effects with props, and creating an ongoing soundscape through music, clapping, whistling, vocalising and singing. Particularly impressive is the ‘Tin Man’ puppet itself, which requires close coordination between the actor playing the human Nick (James Ortiz) and the puppeteers helping to operate his gradually accumulating tin parts, so that actor and puppet parts appear to be part of a single being. It’s chilling to watch Nick become increasingly more encumbered by artificial prosthetics, and gradually surrounded by puppeteer ‘handlers’ required to help animate him like one of the lifeless puppets seen elsewhere in the show. The other puppets are also a joy to watch; it’s fascinating to see the theatrical magic of an immobile puppet face seemingly take on a new expression due to the tilting of the puppet’s head or the accompanying sound effects.

The show includes a short spoken prologue which I don’t believe, given my middling knowledge of the Oz mythos, was taken from Baum. It describes the oppressiveness of the Wicked Witch of the East’s rule, and how her pervasive magically-enhanced spying techniques made the people so afraid of being caught speaking perceived or actual dissent that “words became dangerous”. Therefore, from the prologue onwards, the story is conveyed with very minimal spoken dialogue. Although the idea of an oppressive ruler literally causing the elimination of speech is interesting, and perhaps worthy of a fairy tale or two in its own right (does anybody know of such a tale that already exists?), thankfully ‘The Woodsman’ doesn’t try to shoehorn in too much heavy-handed political commentary. The absence of speech is instead largely a source of creativity and humour as the characters find ways to communicate through vocalisations, gestures and (mostly) wordless singing. (The use of humour in the show is a relief in general; much as I love this tragic tale, the telling of it could easily have become maudlin.) The show is particularly good at convincing us of the budding romance between Nick and Nimmee (Eliza Martin Simpson), despite their initial awkwardness with one another being exacerbated by the absence of speech. The capable way in which the characters dealt with being voiceless was heartening to see, but also tied in well with Nick’s later obstinate stoicism as he was gradually robbed of other capabilities. Additionally, the minimal dialogue would, I imagine, make this show easy to understand for non-English speakers. It’s also interesting to imagine that this telling of the Wicked Witch of the East’s rule is continuous with the classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie; if so, then the words spoken by Glinda and the Munchkins to Dorothy near the start of that film are virtually the first words spoken in the land for years and years. No wonder they all start singing.

In addition to the speechlessness conceit, this adaptation also adds an interesting, canon-compatible character arc for Nimmee over the course of the show, when she might have been little more than a narrative pretext for our male protagonist’s tragic transformation. There are also another nice one or two thematic ideas and payoffs that I won’t spoil here.

(That said, be warned: detailed ending spoilers in this paragraph!) Funnily enough, my two main criticisms of the show relate to aspects which I wish had been less faithful to Baum. There are a few directions in which the show could have gone in relation to Nick’s final tragic loss of his torso, and with it his heart. The loss of his heart could have worked an actual transformation on his character; perhaps he could have become genuinely cruel or indifferent to Nimmee as a result of it. Or, his transformation could have been self-inflicted; he could mistakenly believe that after being completely transformed into tin, he was no longer capable of real human emotions, and so would leave Nimmee because he believed he could no longer ‘truly’ love her, not because he didn’t still feel love for her. Or perhaps the show could have played up the ambiguity of just how much of the man was left. The show goes with the second option, clearly showing that Nick still feels strong emotions after his transformation is complete. That take on the story is valid; but I felt that there could have been more build-up to Nick’s self-perception of his loss of humanity. One way of achieving this would have been for Nick to show some more disgust at his mutilated body and prosthetic tin limbs while he was still in the process of transforming, to help convince the audience that he would later believe that being made entirely of tin made him a monster. The vibe I got from his experience of being part-tin was more one of initial physical pain and struggle to use the new parts, as well as some pleasure and relief when he was able to get them working properly. His devastation when he became completely tin therefore seemed a bit abrupt. Yes, it’s only the loss of his heart specifically which really causes Nick problems in Baum’s book, and the show does do its best to establish the importance of hearts throughout, without the benefit of many spoken words with which to do so; but I still would have liked a little more clarity around this crucial plot point.
I also didn’t like that Nick seemed to have a sense of foreboding each time the axe’s curse got activated and it got ready to mutilate. Again, Baum did set the precedent here by implying that Nick becomes aware of the Witch’s scheme, and just doesn’t realise that she’ll take it as far as she does. But I would rather that the play had made a judicious revision regarding this point. Watching it play out, I couldn’t help but think, “If you have the slightest inkling that your axe might be possessed by an evil spirit, switch axes, dude!”
But criticisms aside, for the most part I thought this adaptation had a lot of heart (sorry), combined with technical virtuosity and creativity. It was very satisfying to see my favourite part of the Oz mythos get a theatrical adaptation from talented people who clearly love the material themselves.
Note about accessing the show online:
BroadwayHD is a bit like mini-Netflix for theatre lovers; it offers yearly and monthly subscriptions for access to its collection of streaming recorded plays, musicals and related content. It also offers one-off ‘tickets’ to stream individual shows for a limited period of time. Some of its content (including ‘The Woodsman’) is exclusive to BroadwayHD, and some not. Some shows and purchase options are not available in certain parts of the world; I imagine that all BroadwayHD options are available to users within the United States. Being located outside of the United States myself, I’m not able to purchase a blanket subscription for the entire catalogue, but was able to buy access to stream ‘The Woodsman’ specifically for two days for USD $7.99. I found the stream to be of reasonable quality, but did have to adjust my browser plugin settings to get it to work. If you’re interested in trying the service, I would recommend first looking at advice online (and not just on BroadwayHD’s website) regarding whether your device and settings will work, and also giving yourself a little time between your purchase and your ‘screening’ to troubleshoot any issues.

Online access
Show website: http://www.thewoodsmanplay.com/
Link to watch the show on BroadwayHD: https://www.broadwayhd.com/index.php/shows/watch/the_woodsman
Show score recording on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/10wdiKeCkxRsofOA6ncZs6
Show length: Approximately 75 minutes
Main credits
Originally produced and developed by Strangemen & Co Theatre Company
Creator and co-director (among other roles): James Ortiz
Co-director: Claire Karpen
Composer: Edward W Hardy
Lyricist: Jen Loring
Many thanks to razorfriend for an inspiring and thought-provoking review! 

Note: If you would like to write a review for any show, movie, book or other fairy tale related event or release, please contact Once Upon A Blog via the Fairy Tale News Room email. Reviews should be fairy tale and/or folklore related as per the focus of this blog. We are particularly interested in fairy tale performance reviews (theater, dance, puppetry, gallery events etc) from all over the world. While we cannot guarantee all reviews will be posted, we will consider every request.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

'The Girl Without Hands' Multi-Award Winning Animated Film (Limited US Theatrical Release Begins July 21)

We've been meaning to bring this to readers attention for a while and are very glad to see this French animated, full length feature, drawing the attention of mainstream media such as The New York Times, this week as it becomes available to see in the US in selected indie theaters.

Note: the alternate posters shown throughout this post were created by Paul Jeffrey of Passage Design, all of which can be seen HERE.
Created by one man (!), the film, being hailed a masterpiece and 'guaranteed to be an animation classic', is based on the Grimm's version of the tale, and cleverly and sensitively uses a very expressive-impressionist style to convey both characters and emotion throughout.

Take a look:

As a fairy tale reader, you're probably aware of how dark and harsh this story is - and therefore how much it means to so many people - and will be glad to know that although the style is gentle and colorful, it doesn't shy away from the dark themes.

For those a little rusty on the synopsis here's a summary, courtesy of GKids:
In hard times, a miller sells his daughter to the Devil. Protected by her purity, she escapes from the Devil who, in revenge, deprives her of her hands. So begins her long journey towards the light… but in spite of her resilience and the new protection of a handsome prince’s estate, the Devil devises a plan of his own.
From the New York Times review:
Perhaps more striking than the adaptation of the harsh narrative is the movie’s animation style. Mr. Laudenbach’s drawing eschews clean ink lines for a minimalist and impressionist aesthetic. He allows the water color swatches that stand in for characters and landscapes to create a dreamlike world that appears poetically endless. When lines do appear, they are thick and textured, like those of a sumi-e painting from Asia.
The result is a dazzlingly imaginative movie about survival. Left on her own, the woman in the story proves capable of taking care of herself, and later her child, once the constraints of comfort and gender roles are cast off.
Indie Wire has an exclusive 1min13second clip of the sequence HERE where the father is tricked by the Devil. It's definitely worth watching! (We are not embedding out of respect for this clip just surfacing)

Distribution has been picked up by GKids, with the film having a limited US theatrical release, starting in New York at the IFC tomorrow (July 21st). More dates and locations are being added to the official page on the GKids website HERE, so check it out and see if you're lucky enough to have this appear locally for you. With GKids - who are doing an amazing job of bringing world class animation from all over the globe to larger audiences - as the distributor, hopefully the full length feature will be available to add to our fairy tale film libraries on DVD and/or Blu-ray soon.


Please note: with the subject matter and the film being distributed by GKids, it may be a little confusing as to whom is the best audience for the film. By all reports, it can be considered accessible to some children and has a dreamlike quality about it, as well as a very female empowering message. There is no doubt it tells the same story as the Brothers Grimm, however, so due to this and the representation of some very dark concepts, the style is probably best suited for teens and above. Please use discretion (and perhaps a pre-viewing) if you intend to share this with children.
To help in deciding, there's a good description of style and some of the story aspects and approaches to storytelling in the Variety review HERE.

There is also a French book that's been released, using the drawings created for the film, which is advertised as being from ages 7-77. We can't find any notice of an English version of this book in the works so if you're keen, we suggest hunting down a French copy. You can read about it HERE.
                             
The whole Fairy Tale News Room are all very much looking forward to seeing this film, and in many ways it feels as if the release of this film in the US this year, is rather fortuitous. We're very grateful to GKids for making the best animated storytelling from around the world available for us to see.

Pixar's New Untitled 'Suburban Fantasy World' Movie Will Have Elves & Trolls& Sprites in Surburbia

Image from presentation at D23 2017
At D23, the Disney fan convention, director of Monsters University, Dan Scanlon, came on stage to make a surprise announcement about a new, personal movie he's directing for Pixar. Currently untitled, it's described as being set in a 'Suburban Fantasy World'.

From movie web:
Rip Van Winkle by Mike Ploog
According to Scanlon, who lost his father at a very young age, the movie is inspired by the question he's always asked: 'Who was my father?' The story is set in a world with no humans, only elves, trolls and sprites... Scanlon went on to give a brief synopsis of the untitled animated movie that will fit right in with the tears that Pixar is so famous for. He explains this. 
 "In the film, we're going to tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father."
Bruce Pennington
(Additional quote via MTV): "The story takes place in a modern fantasy world where there once was magic — real magic — but it was hard to do and complicated to learn, so people just lost interest. In this world, a mix of "the fantastical and the everyday," humans don't exist. There are only elves, trolls, and sprites — or "anything that would be on the side of a van in the '70s," the director said. Oh, and unicorns are everywhere. They roam the streets of this modern, magical suburbia like rodents." 
(Emphasis in bold by OUABlog - because that looks like the style you can expect to see, sort of like 'The Night Begins To Shine' special event beginning August 1st, on the Teen Titans Go series, which albeit leaning more toward 80's than 70s, taps the same nostalgic vein.)
One of the more family friendly 70s van art images found via google (no credit given for the photo)
The homes on the street are apparently going to be Mushroom houses much like the Smurfs, but set in a modern time where there are satellite dishes sticking out of the roofs. Magical and majestic unicorns will be seen digging through the garbage much like a possum or raccoon. No release date has been set for the untitled movie, but it certainly does sound like a very Pixar affair, balancing the absurd with the heartbreakingly realistic portrayals of life even if the lives are those of troll, sprites, and elves that live in mushroom houses surrounded by magic.
Also - according to the D23 image - there will be dragons. We approve. Always good to remind heroes of how crunchy they can be.

Assuming the Pixar powers-that-be and associated creatives are accessing their childlike, nostalgic sides more than anything else though, it's likely we can expect an adventurous and humorous romp through Lord of the Rings-meets-D&D-in-suburbia, (or Stranger Things for kids), along with some heart-wrenching, family/origin story threads, designed to have us muttering about something in our eyes. 

In other words: bring it on.

What do you think? Are you intrigued? What do you think the potential is for a contemporary fairy tale-type story here? What troll, elf and sprite tropes (or lore) do you think Pixar will tap, if any?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' is an Other-Worldly Fairy Tale

Poster by James Jean
“If I told you about her — the princess without a voice — what would I say?”
(Opening narration from the trailer)

So begins a very different exploration of a princess, and of a mer (not maid but) man. Set in the Cold War era of 1963, we're taken to the world of a mute and lonely cleaning woman of a high-security government lab, who discovers a top-secret experiment: an “aquatic man”, destined to be experimented on. The discovery - and he - change her life forever.

It sounds sci-fi/ monster-movie-ish: where is the fairy tale aspect? (we hear you ask...) Take a look at the trailer and see. There's something undeniably fairy tale about the way this story is told, and it's not just the strong styling. Clearly Guillermo del Toro is exploring a number of fairy tale themes here:
The mythology teases are tantalizing: All we know is that the creature was revered in the Amazon as a god but somehow ended up under U.S. government control. (Collider)
It seems not a whole lot is known about the synopsis other than what is shown in the trailer. From the initial pitch by del Toro and footage here, we could be looking at plot, or dreams, or both. The use of art as a medium within the film for storytelling is intriguing as well. Recalling shades of The Creature From the Black Lagoon and Night of the Hunter, both of which do have a fairy tale slant to them. Whatever the case, the mousey little woman finds her 'voice' and a strength it's unlikely anyone, including she, knew she had. 
Abe? Is that you?
And that appears to be where this 'other-worldy fairy tale', as it is officially described, begins. 

You may consider our curiosity piqued.
Fox Searchlight has given “The Shape of Water” an awards season release date of Dec. 8.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

D23 Unveils Details on Disney's 'Nutcracker & the Four Realms'

People seem to be very excited about the details of Disney's live action 'The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' that have been revealed at the D23 convention this past week. No visuals, other than the title card have been released to the public yet but we're told by all fans who've seen it that "it's beautiful! - at least as beautiful as Beauty and the Beast", and there is a little intriguing information about the synopsis we can share.

(In case you missed it, you can catch up on everything we've known about this movie to date HERE so you can read the following with more context.)

Gennady Spirin's illustration of the Mouse King for The Nutcracker
From the Disney's Inside The Magic report:
The film will star Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, along with Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. It’s a re-imagining of the classic story – a cross between Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast and Fantasia with a bit of a Narnia vibe. 
The film largely takes place in a strange and mysterious parallel world—home to Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. But it’s the ominous Fourth Realm where Clara must take on a tyrant called Mother Ginger as well as a gang of mice who’ve stolen a coveted key from Clara. 
“The Mouse King is made up of thousands of mice—a cutting-edge CG creation. But we wanted him to move in a way that would be wonderfully surprising and incredibly cool, so we called on Lil Buck to provide the style of dance that defines the character. (InsideTheMagic)
The glaring omission from this report (!) is that the ABT's Principal Ballerina, Misty Copeland, will also star and be dancing in the film, not to mention that she will be THE reason many people go to see this film.

Speaking of dance, the style showcased by Lil Buck for the Mouse King's motion style, is called 'jookin' and is basically a contemporary cross between pop-n-lock and breakdance.

Here's a little more information on the actual realms from EW:
Bailey also elaborated on the four realms that Clara visits during her magical Christmas Eve adventure: The Land of Flowers, attended by Eugenio Derbez’s Hawthorn; The Land of Snowflakes, lorded over by Richard E. Grant’s Shiver; the Land of Sweets, dominated by Knightley’s Sugar Plum Fairy; and the fourth realm, belonging to the villainous Mother Ginger, played by Mirren.
Lil Buck showcasing his 'jookin' at D23 2017
The movie is (still) reportedly inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale (he is credited with the story, while Ashleigh Powell is credited with the screenplay) but the influence of the popular revisions and ballet variations are clearly very influential as well. That said, with this being a 'darker version of the Nutcracker story' (as reported by various posts by D23 attendees) hopefully we'll see some of Hoffman's original touch - and his wonderful character of Marie, who is much less delicate than the now-traditional Clara - in there. (We highly recommend the NPR article which interviews Professor Zipes on the story HERE, and discusses Hoffman's original and how the story became watered down.)

'Nutcracker' finished filming in January this year (2017) and is currently in post-production release date for this movie has been bumped up to November 2, 2018, meaning Disney's live action 'Mulan' will be re-slated for a later debut, possibly 2019, as the Christmas/Holiday 2018 slot is set for 'Mary Poppins Returns'.

With SDCC (San Diego ComiCon) in full swing this week we should start to see some visuals released very soon, so stay tuned.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

GKids Studio Ghibli Fest 2017!

In case you're not aware of it's slid under your radar, don't forget GKids current Studio Ghibli Fest, showing classic Studio Ghibli films in theaters around the US during 2017! 

Studio Ghibli is known for their children's fairy tale/ fantasy films that do, indeed, fit our genre very well. The storytelling is different to Western fairy tales, of course, but is still very accessible to kids of all ages and highly recommended.

You may think: "But I've seen all these, more than once. What's the point?" The answer is that the experience is entirely different on the big screen  - an opportunity that comes along quite rarely - and worth the price of entry.

The showings take place over two days: the first day with English dubbing and the second day with Japanese audio and English subtitles. (We recommend viewing with the original audio and subtitles! It makes a huge difference and both kids who can read and those who can't love the original audio versions too.)
We took the Fairy Tale News Room Little League to go watch 'My Neighbor Totoro' (in Japanese with English subtitles), at the end of June, and are more convinced than ever that this should be considered a fairy tale film and a must-see for children the globe over. All the kids knew the movie so well they thought they'd be bored seeing 'this little kids movie', but came out proclaiming this movie "the best ever!" and back on top of their favorites list ("...the Japanese version!").

Other films coming up are: 
Kiki's Delivery Service - July 23, 24
(If you haven't seen this lovely, magical film, do yourself and kids you know a favor and go see it)
Castle in the Sky - August 27, 28
(A robot in a fairy tale? Yep. Expect to fall in love with him...)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind - September 24, 25
(a wonderful eco-sci-fi-fairy tale kids love)
Spirited Away - October 29, 30
(perfect for uplifting Halloween viewing!)
Howl's Moving Castle - November 26, 27
(with Miyazaki's version of Baba Yaga's hut - sort of.)

See you at the movies!

Friday, July 14, 2017

'Mary and The Witch's Flower' Opens in Japan to Great Acclaim & Thumbs Up by Miyazaki

You may not have heard of this new film that has a serious Studio Ghibli vibe, but take a look at why you want this one on your radar!
We've included the three trailers so you can see a range of the goodies awaiting - all three are worth watching for a different perspective on the film:
'Mary and The Witch's Flower' is based on the 1971 English children's novel by Mary Stewart (yes, that Mary Stewart!), 'The Little Broomstick' and is considered a simple 'proto-Harry Potter' type of story. The movie itself shows a lot of Ghibli-like magic, style and Miyazaki-ish imagination, even as it pays close attention to it's source material.
The story is based off a very short novel. The greatest strength of the original story was its vivid and lyrical descriptions, making the world it takes place in feel very tangible despite the brevity of its plot. This same quality is on display in the film, too, which succeeds more because of its attention to detail than anything else. Even brief asides in the novel like “The little broomstick gave a leap, a violent twist, a kick like the kick of a pony” are faithfully recreated in visual form. (Animenewsnetwork)
Here's a brief introduction to the novel, taken from a non-spoilery review:
‘Nothing, thought Mary, nothing could ever happen here’ ‘Everywhere was damp, and decay, and the end of summer’; but then a small black green-eyed cat appears, and adventure and magic begin.
The cat leads Mary to a clump of unusual purple flowers that she shows to Zebedee the gardener at Red Manor, who names both the cat (Tib) and the blooms (fly-by-night). Zebedee also tells Mary of the folklore surrounding the flower , including: ‘And ’tis said that in the olden days the witches sought her [the flower] from the corners of the Black Mountains, and from the place where the old city was and there’s now naught but a pool o’ water’.
 
...While sweeping up leaves with a small broom, Mary accidentally smears the broom in the juice of a fly-by-night flower. Immediately, ‘the little broomstick gave a leap, a violent twist, a kick like the kick of a pony’ and Mary and Tib are transported by flying broomstick to Endor College, school of witchcraft. Endor is no Hogwarts: Madam Mumblechook believes that Mary has come to enrol at the school to learn skills such as ‘Turning milk sour, blighting turnips, making the cows go dry’. The ill-wishing of the spells is underlined by the sourness of the rhymes used in the spells: nursery-rhymes that ‘slipped somehow, so that the result was not ordinary, or even nice at all.’ But then Mary makes a sinister discovery about animals that have been ‘transformed’ and begins to wonder if she will be allowed to leave Endor. She does manage to return to Red Manor, only to find that the cat Tib has been kept captive at the College. 
True to the spirit of a Mary Stewart heroine, Mary decides to go back to rescue Tib, which leads to further adventure and dangers as Mary releases all of the animals, breaks the transformation spell and flees Endor College. (extracted from a review at MaryStewartReading)

We recommend reading the whole review for a good overview of the book and it's themes in context of today. What Studio Ponoc does with those themes and ideas, we've yet to see, of course, but it's intriguing to have this as background.

The new studio producing 'Mary and The Witch's Flower', Studio Ponoc, is being considered "the new Studio Ghibli" - or, more accurately "Studio Ghibli 2.0". 

As Miyazaki slips out of retirement (for the sixth?? time) to finish another short film, 'Boro the Caterpillar' for the exclusive Ghibli Museum theater presentations, it's clear that even with blessed longevity, he can't keep un-retiring forever, and speculation mounts as to 'who will be the new Miyazaki?'. (Answer: no one!)

Director of 'Mary and The Witch's Flower'Hiromasa Yonebayashi (director of 'Arriety' and 'When Marnie Was There') is considered a protegé of Miyazaki with this being his third feature film (and his first since leaving Studio Ghibli). Miyazaki - a notoriously critical director - has officially given it his thumbs-up, which is a huge deal. While no one will ever 'do Miyazaki like Miyazaki', Yonebayashi is certain to do his legacy proud at the very least and we can look forward to more of this unique type of storytelling and animation magic in the future.

Distribution update from Crunchyroll on July 13, 2017:
After a modest opening in theaters in Japan on July 08, 2017, Mary and the Witch's Flower will be casting its spell with an expanded theatrical release that will include some 155 territories worldwide, including the United States, England, France, Australia, China, and South Korea. The film will also see distribution in South America, Africa, and the Middle East.
Yes! We are doubly-excited now!