Animation producer-distributor GKIDS has snagged North American distribution rights to anthology title Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1 — a feature length collection of three shorts from Japan’s Studio Ponoc (Mary and the Witch’s Flower). A theatrical release is planned for January 2019 in both subtitled and English dubbed versions, following the U.S. premiere at Animation Is Film Festival in Los Angeles this month.
“Like everyone who fell in love with Mary and the Witch’s Flower, we couldn’t wait to see what Studio Ponoc would do next,” said David Jesteadt, President of GKIDS. “We are thrilled that they returned with not one but three new stories, and we are honored to continue our partnership with one of the most innovative and exciting animation studios working today.”
Modest Heroes is comprised of three standalone films:
In Kanini & Kanino, directed by Academy Award nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There, Mary and the Witch’s Flower), two crab brothers embark on a grand underwater adventure to find their father, after an accident carries him far downstream. Depicted as tiny beings in a large and merciless natural world, the brothers must evade a series of freshwater predators if they are ever to reunite with their family again.
In Life Ain’t Gonna Lose, acclaimed animator Yoshiyuki Momose (key animator on Isao Takahata’s films at Studio Ghibli, and animation director of the video game Ni No Kuni) makes his directorial debut with a very different kind of story. Eight-year-old Shun loves baseball and running. Only eggs defeat him. With the love of his strong-willed mother (Maggie Q), Shun faces the challenge of an everyday life threatened by a deadly allergy.
Lastly, in Invisible (the directing debut of Akihiko Yamashita, a talented key animator on many of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s best-known films) a man wakes up one morning and goes through his day in a world where no one can see him. But just when he seems to have reached his limit, a momentous decision gives him the chance to reclaim his humanity.
Studio Ponoc was founded by two-time Academy Award nominated Ghibli producer Nishimura (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There).
The all-rights deal for Modest Heroes was negotiated by David Jestaedt of GKIDS and Geoffrey Wexler of Studio Ponoc.