The film opens with a spellbinding, wordless sequence under the sea, with floating jellyfish and scampering bottom-dwellers. The pastel colours of this scene make Ponyo one of the very rare movies where you want to sit in the front row in order to drown in it.

PONYO
HAYAO MIYAZAKI — JP, 2008 — 101’

29/03 20:00 Vrijstaat O Oostende

One day a sweet-natured five-year-old boy finds a goldfish – though this creature strangely already has the vestigial appearance of a little girl – trapped in a jam jar on the beach. When he cuts himself on the glass, the fish licks him better. It’s an event which we later discover sets the fish on an inexorable path towards humanity, a transformation that is aided by the fish’s adoration for its new companion. Yet the love the two share seems to threaten the very fabric of reality, causing the oceans to rise and the moon to fall closer to the earth.

Of course, fish are incapable of licking and tiny animals do not fall in love in the sense that we understand the concept. Miyazaki’s creations feel as though they are derived from the fertile imaginations of very, very young children, unfettered by concerns of realism or efficacy. Yet this film has such a beguiling and otherworldly quality that adults cast aside disbelief like a heavy coat on a warm summer’s day, overwhelmed by the spectacular, mysterious and magical images on the big screen.

While much of the film’s charm hinges on its whimsical storyline and impeccable production values, there is room to consider the weighty theme of environmental destruction as the plot takes a darker turn.

In most feature films, the sea around Japan is a deadly enemy, stirred by subterranean forces. But not all images in Japanese films, whether animated or not, are underpinned by such environmentally conscious animistic harmony as here. In Miyazaki’s films, nature dictates its terms to mankind.

Miyazaki’s work also often touches on the innocence of children and posits the view that they offer hope for humanity’s future. His films – entirely hand-drawn – are like dancing dreams, flowing movements and mysterious turbulences.

In this film, there is sadness mingled with sweetness, and that gave us the idea to offer you sweet and savoury snacks that’ll bring you even closer to appreciating Ponyo’s unworldly charm. Don’t expect the usual.

The sea is Monokino’s favourite projection surface for images, stories and histories. In anticipation of our next screening, we’ve started to collect a list of films in which the sea plays a main or supporting role. Can you think of a film that’s not already on our list? We’d love to hear about it via Facebook or Instagram.

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TEAM — Anouk De Clercq, Baptist Everaert, Chloë Delanghe, Dagmar Dirkx, David Slotema, Eric de Kuyper, Erien Withouck, Eva Claus, Godart Bakkers, Jana Coorevits, June Laka, Rebecca Jane Arthur, Quinten Wyns, Ynne De Wever.
Graphic design: Michaël Bussaer. Webdesign: Dominique Callewaert.

With the support of Auguste Orts, CINEMATEK, KAAP, KASK School of Arts Gent, Onderzoeksfonds Universiteit Gent, MOOOV, Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds.

Whoever walks in Ostend today is confronted with a fantastic eclecticism: a brutal grey apartment block exists next to the glorious Thermae Palace. The mighty, almost Stalinist, building of De Grote Post dominates the Hendrik Serruyslaan. A former department store houses a museum for contemporary art. Belle-époque houses are hidden in the quiet but stately streets.

In 2017, one void struck artist Anouk De Clercq: that glorious film culture of Henri Storck, James Ensor or Raoul Servais had disappeared from the streets. With the closure of the Rialto cinema, the last independent cinema from the Ostend cinema circuit also disappeared. Against such an extraordinary backdrop, with the sea as a large projection surface for images, stories and histories, that is such a shame.

And so the idea of Monokino ripens: one room, marked by an equally fantastic eclecticism, where cinema can be itself again. One room where long and short films, film classics, auteur cinema, video art, experimental films, animation, or the work of young makers can find a place. Monokino shows, questions, responds, engages in conversation, invites, welcomes, puts in perspective. Monokino is a place of, by and for people from Ostend, for professionals and enthusiasts, for young and old, for those from here and those from there.

The films that Monokino wants to show don’t only live on the screen. They also spread between residents, spectators, and makers. In that sense, Monokino is also Kopfkino: a mental cinema, where images get the chance to live and multiply.

That’s how Monokino drifts nomadically through those eclectic streets of Ostend and settles in the heads and hearts of the people of Ostend. Soon it’ll moor for good.

Monokino wants to drive cinema into the 21st century and illuminate the adventurous side of film. While we strive for a permanent place as anchorage for cinefiles from Ostend and beyond, Monokino operates as a nomadic film platform.