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Hayao Miyazaki was born January 5, 1941 in Tokyo, Japan and is a prominent filmmaker of many popular animated feature films. He is also a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company.
He remained largely unknown to the West, outside of animation communities, until Miramax released his 1997 Princess Mononoke. By that time, his films had already enjoyed both commercial and critical success in Japan and Central Asia. For instance, Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing film in Japan until Titanic (1997) came out a few months later, and the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. His later film, Spirited Away, had that distinction as well, and was the first anime film to win an Academy Award, topping Titanic in the Japanese box office. Howl's Moving Castle was also nominated but did not receive the award.
Miyazaki's films often incorporate recurrent themes, such as humanity's relationship to nature and technology, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. Reflecting Miyazaki's feminism, the protagonists of his films are often strong, independent girls or young women; the villains, when present, are often morally ambiguous characters with redeeming qualities.