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Japanese animation master to accept honorary Oscar

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    Hayao Miyazaki

LOS ANGELES >> Hayao Miyazaki is retiring from feature filmmaking, but the 73-year-old writer, director and animator says he’ll make movies for the rest of his life.

An Oscar winner for his 2002 film, “Spirited Away,” Miyazaki will accept an honorary Academy Award on Saturday at the film academy’s Governors Awards. Actress Maureen O’Hara, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Harry Belafonte will also receive honorary Oscar statuettes at the private ceremony.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” Miyazaki said through a translator, adding that he’s not looking forward to the trip to the United States from his native Japan. “It’s going to be a bit of a bothersome thing for me to travel.”

What he prefers to do is draw, write and tell stories, though doing so in a feature-length format has become physically challenging, he said.

“It became very difficult for me to concentrate for such a long time that it takes to make a whole film, to concentrate that much,” he said. “I loved making feature-length films to be shown in theaters and making animation films, and my thought was to hand that over to the next generation.”

Now he’s turning his attention to animated shorts to be shown at the Ghibli Museum he designed and founded in Japan.

“One of the good points of making such short films is that I don’t have to worry about it having financial success,” he said. “The people who come to the museum are forced to see this film when they go into the little theater there. So even if it’s a little bit boring, they’ll probably sit through it and not raise a fuss.”

Miyazaki’s feature-film credits include 2013’s “The Wind Rises” and 2005’s “Howl’s Moving Castle,” both of which earned Oscar nominations, along with 2008’s “Ponyo” and 1997’s “Princess Mononoke.”

Short films hold more appeal for him now, allowing him to pursue ideas he’d set aside to make features.

“That makes me very happy,” he said. “I will continue to make animation work until I die.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established the Governors Awards in 2009 to recognize recipients of honorary Oscars. Highlights from the untelevised dinner ceremony will be included in the 2015 Academy Awards telecast.

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