Oscar-winning Japanese anime master Hayao Miyazaki once said he thought he’d stop making features after 1997′s Princess Mononoke. Instead, he went on to such films as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo. Today in Venice, Koju Hoshino, president of Miyazaki’s production company Studio Ghibli, announced that the director’s competition title, The Wind Rises, will be his last film. Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval, who confirms the news, says, “For me, he is simply the greatest animator that ever was.” Wild Bunch is a longtime collaborator of Miyazaki’s and is handling world sales on The Wind Rises. Maraval calls Miyazaki’s retirement “the end of an era.” Knowing there will be no more “Ponyo or Catbus or monsters or witches or resourceful little girls, is very strange,” Maraval adds. “At the same time, he is ending on a masterpiece that leaves us with his great humanism and a vision of our century to contemplate.” Hoshino did not take questions at a Venice press conference, saying there will be a special one held in Tokyo next week. “He wants to say goodbye to all of you.” Miyazaki’s 2004 film Howl’s Moving Castle was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. In 2001, he won the Oscar in that category with Spirited Away. Disney is releasing The Wind Rises under the Touchstone Pictures banner in North America.

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