Students celebrate Japanese director with festival

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Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

For decades, Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki impacted the film industry with his famous works such as “Spirited Away,” “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Princess Mononoke.” To celebrate his legacy, hundreds of students crowded into the Student Activity Center ballroom Thursday evening for the first ever “Miyazaki Festival.” 

The Campus Events + Entertainment Asian American Culture committee hosted the University’s first event to commemorate the famous film director, offering students such as Leila Chen the ability to celebrate a director they love.

“I was very excited about this event, because I knew about it weeks ago,” said Chen, a medical lab science sophomore. “I really love Miyazaki and how his fantasy movies reflect social issues of Japan.”

The event had a diverse range of activities for students to enjoy. Dozens of students crowded into a packed theatre to watch clips of Miyazaki’s films on a large projector. Other students were able to enjoy food from Miyazaki-inspired cookies to Hi-Chews, face painting, trivia tournaments, prize games and photo booths. 

Some students also arrived to the event in costume. Public health senior Blaine Nicolaisen, said he showed up in full-body, black costume as No Face from “Spirited Away,” because he loves the mysterious character. 

“This was the perfect event to show off my costume,” Nicolaisen said. “When I wore this costume on Halloween, no one understood who I was. So I’m glad I was able to find a community like this that can appreciate my costume as much as I do.”

Van-Anh Van-Dinh, chair of the Asian American Culture committee, said she helped organize this event, because she’s a big fan of Miyazaki and felt others would enjoy celebrating him, too.

“I proposed this idea because I wanted to focus on an event that I had personal interest in,” finance junior Van-Dinh said. “I wanted to bring it to life and it was really awesome that Events + Entertainment was able to make it happen.”

Nicolaisen said he hopes the festival is repeated next year because it’s an event everyone can enjoy. 

“I’d like to see more stuff like this,” Nicolaisen said. “Something like this has a wide enough appeal to Americans that you don’t have to be a hardcore fan to enjoy it. A bunch of people can come and just have a good time.”