A rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most celebrated animation studios in the world, and a portrait of their dreams, passion and dedication that borders on madness.
There have been numerous documentaries about Studio Ghibli made for television or for DVD features, but no one had tried making a theatrical documentary feature about the famed animation studio. That is precisely what filmmaker Mami Sunada set out to do in The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.
Born in 1978, Sunada studied documentary filmmaking while at Keio University before apprenticing as a director’s assistant under Hirokazu Kore-eda and others. Her directorial debut, Death of a Japanese Salesman, a documentary about her father’s last days after being diagnosed with cancer, won numerous director awards and exceeded 100 million yen at the box office, a rare occurrence for a documentary.
Here, with near-unlimited access inside the studio, Sunada follows those who “are” Ghibli – director Hayao Miyazaki, producer Toshio Suzuki and the elusive “other” director, Isao Takahata – over the course of approximately one year, as the studio rushes to complete their two highly anticipated new films, Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.