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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Next Studio Ghibli film: ‘Whisper of the Heart’

Over the course of his long career, the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki involved himself in dozens of Studio Ghibli projects. He is best known for having directed several of them.

But in 1995, the studio released the film "Whisper of the Heart," which was based on a Miyazaki screenplay (adapted from a manga by Aoi Hiiragi). Yoshifumi Kondô directed.

As it turns out, the movie was Kondô's only feature film as director. He went to work at Studio Ghibli in 1987. After "Whisper of the Heart," he was expected to take over the studio when Miyazaki retired. But Kondô died suddenly in 1998, at the age of 47.

The movie he made, though, lives on. It involves a young girl named Shizuku whose love of books leads her to forge a friendship with a boy, and eventually she learns both about her innate talent for writing and about the nature of true love. Oh, and a magic cat and an old violin maker and Italy play parts in the story, too.

"Like its characters," wrote film critic Christopher Runyon, "the film's horizons expand further as it progresses, creating an all-encompassing portrait of childhood dreams & the sacrifices we make to commit to them."

"Whisper of the Heart" will play at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at two area Regal Cinemas theaters, Northtown Mall and Coeur d'Alene's Riverstone Stadium, and at AMC River Park Square. Monday's screening will be dubbed in English, while Tuesday's screening will be in the original Japanese (and subtitled in English).

The actors from the English version are Brittany Snow (Shizuku), David Gallagher, Jean Smart, James Sikking and Cary Elwes.

"Whisper of the Heart" is part of the annual Studio Ghibli Fest. The next screening will be "Kiki's Delivery Service" (1989), which will screen on July 28th, 29th and 31st.