8th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL: KEEPS EVOLVING IN THE NEW LOOKS AND TRUE OKINAWAN CLIMATE
8th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL: KEEPS EVOLVING IN THE NEW LOOKS AND TRUE OKINAWAN CLIMATE
Already marking its 8th edition, The Okinawa International Movie Festival (OIMF) now evolves with new looks and excitements. Moving from the cold and windy temperature of March to full four day events from Thursday, April 21st to Sunday, April 24th to enjoy what they called as the true Okinawan climate, the festival still packs as a celebration of movies, culture and more entertainment contents across the island with the rich culture of each Okinawa prefectures.
The main venue in Ginowan beach now moved to Naha City’s Naminoue Umisora Park , still with the variety of events and giant open air screen and stage. With more supports including the student cheer squad from 8 junior colleges and universities and the ‘Okinawa International Movie Festival Women’s Cheer Group’ made up of entertainers and models from around the prefectures, the newly enhanced title last year ‘All Things Great in All The Island’ comes even bigger under the festival distinctive theme of ‘Laugh & Peace’, allowing more kinds of movies that can transform your hearts and put smiles on the audience face, some things we couldn’t find in the other international movie festivals.
Yoshimoto Kogyo as the festival organizing commitee also took a bigger chance through the festival as the chance and opportunities for entertainment content exchange from all parts of the world. They had stated it clear through one of the festival’s conjunctive event, a symposium titled ‘The Future of Okinawa and the Role of Entertainment’, attended by the political and media leaders, and also influencers, commentators and all the world media.
Not only talked about strategies, the target of attracting more tourists and how the government support entertainment companies to find funds to build important cultural events, sells and even exchange their contents, one that Yoshimoto focused on, standup comedians, for example, Yoshimoto Kogyo also decided to open an entertainment school in Okinawa Prefecture, for the purpose of training global entertainment personnel and to affirmed the importance of fostering talents – human resources. The school, aimed to open in 2018, will focus not only on actual dance, singing, comic dialog and other performing arts, but also the backyard works that support entertainment.
Opens with the red carpet events along the Naminoue Umisora Park that walked by more than 750 celebrities from all around the world, the event attended by more than 20.000 fans for more than two hours. The first group walked the red carpet were the cast and crew for the first Japanese online content for Netflix, a ten episode J-drama titled ‘Hibana – Spark’, also had its three first episodes screened at the festival opening day in Sakurazaka Indie/Cultural Theatre. Among them were director/writer Naoko Matayoshi, the writer of the best selling novel source, Netflix Japan President Greg Peters and the cast of comedians include two main cast Kento Hayashi and Kazuki Namioka.
The main sensation of the event, however, was model-actress Sumire from Yoko Narahashi’s movie in the ‘Special Invitation’ segment, ‘Teotsunaide Kaerouyo / Hold My Hand’. Walked the red carpets along with director Yoko Narahashi and the movie’s other actress, Nanami, Sumire, the Hawaiian born Japanese actress who soon will start her career in Hollywood movie ‘The Spark’ with Sam Worthington, served her fans’ request to take selfies and giving autographs. There were also the senior international actress Kaori Momoi representing her own-directing feature ‘Hee’ in this year’s festival, and Korean famous actor Ha Jung-woo from the 2015’ South Korean ‘Chronicle of a Blood Merchant’.
The festival’s opening ceremony then opened with the speech from Hiroshi Osaki, Yoshimoto’s CEO and Chairman, companied by two comics – Kiyoshi Nishikawa and Tamako Miyagawa, followed by Okinawa deputy governor Mitsuo Ageda and Mayor Mikiko Shiroma.
More about the content diversifications, this year’s festival also screened the first Yoshimoto – distributed international feature, Justin Kurzel’s ‘Macbeth’ starred Michael Fassbender. As the momentum of Yoshimoto to distribute international films in Japan, they collaborated with William Ireton, the former President of Warner Entertainment Japan who is now holding his own company, Ireton Entertainment.
The other marks was of course Yoshimoto’s first collaboration for online content with Netflix. The President of Netflix Japan, Greg Peters, who also held the interview session with some of the world media said that not only the ten part TV drama ‘Hibana – Spark’ which screened at the festival as their first project, he is now working to spread more Japanese contents to be released simultaneously worldwide to its network of 190 countries, and that there’s no set limit – they will support productions as long as they feel it has potential.
“We would like the audience to enjoy content at the same time that everyone else in the world gets to enjot it, so no more waiting for weeks and months for a release. On the flip side we work with content creators here so that they can tell them, ideally at a quality level that isn’t supported by just the domestic market, and then we can connect them to global audience”, Peters said. And this will so continue in other Asian countries, including the ones that Netflix or other online networks still had a problem with different kinds of censored regulations.
He then added “Partly aside of distributions, it’s about recommending to people, who might not think about watching a Japanese drama or anime these times, they may try it out and fall in love with the content. The creativity that we see in Japan, from manga to anime and even smaller independent films, are made by true visionary creators that need more room to do something interesting. To be able to define those creators and give them an opportunity to create at a bigger scale and then find a bigger audience, was one of our goals, and these kind of international festivals, as well will help us find and distribute the content”.
Although not having main awards to the festival movies line ups, Yoshimoto and OIMF still had the competition section in the ‘Jimot CM’, both Japan – followed by 47 prefectures, and the World Jimot CM consists of Indonesia – Malaysia – Thailand – Vietnam and Taiwan, also the Local Origination Project followed by Okinawa’s 41 muncipalities, the project that solicits ‘CM Plans’ from the people who reside in all part of Japan for the purpose of ‘things that regional citizens only know about the heart of love for their local region that they want to convey to all of Japan’. This year’s competition sees a new category called ‘Eat & Smile’ along with last years’ various kinds of cultural documentations, established in the collaboration with the ‘Kampo Eat & Smile Project’.
There are also the Creator’s Factory segment, established as the platform to award the ‘Best New Creations’, a competition that meant to discover promising and still-hidden talents in all genres that will lead the next generation of visual arts. This year’s program of ‘The Creator’s Factory’ established 2 different categories, the ‘U-25 Video Image Category’ and ‘Project Proposal (Screenplay) Category’, which entries in both categories will go through open screening during the festival and the winners will receive full support from OIMF in planning and production.
The festival was closed by another red carpet event along the Kokusai Dori Avenue, Naha-City. Walked by more than 867 guests in 99 groups, the 150 meters long red carpet held along the main Kokusai street in Naha. Amongst the guest were comedian Naomi Watanabe, the former ANA Okinawa Poster Girl, members of idol pop groups NMB48 and many Japanese famous characters including Pokemon’s Pikachu and the creature from Takashi Miike’s adaptation of ‘Terra Formars’.
Before the closing ceremony was concluded with a speech by Hiroshi Osaki, giving thanks to the cooperation of the Government and all supporters, also explained that the main street Kokusai dori is one of the symbols of the post-war recovery in Naha with Sakurazaka movie theatres, the governor of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga stating his deep appreciation to all the participants.
The festival then finished with a musical extravaganza on the main stage in Naminoue Umisora Park in Naha called the ‘All Ending’, featured many top Yoshimoto comedians and also local pop groups plus collaboration of musicians from various groups in ‘The All Islands Okinawa Band’ that blends the traditional Okinawan folk music with rock and modern sounds.
With the venues that spread from Naha City’s Naminoue Umisora Park, Kokusai Dori, Yoshimoto Okinawa Kagetsu, Sakurazaka Theatre, Tenbusu Naha, Chatan City with its Mihama American Village, Urasoe City’s Tadako Plaza, Okinawa City’s Koza Music Town, Tomigusuku City’s Umikaji Terrace Senagajima and the new AEON Mall with its Cinema Rycom in Kitanagasuku Village, in all, 350.000 people attended the films and events of the 8th Okinawa International Movie Festival. There were 75 films were screened, 80.000 two red carpet attendees and 8.8 Million Yen in prize money was awarded. See you in the 9th Okinawa International Movie Festival!
Here are the complete list of OIMF’s main movie line ups:
Alone in the Valley (2015, Srilanka, Boodee Keerthisena)
Line! Line! Line! (2016, Japan, Naoto Monma)
The Man who Changed Okinawa (2016, Japan, Tsukasa Kishimoto)
Kaminchu – Legend of Zan (2016, Japan, Yasunori Matayoshi)
Sabuibo Mask (2016, Japan, Naoto Monma)
Chambara: The Art of Japanese Swordplay (2015, Japan, Sadao Nakajima)
Zootopia (2016, US, Byron Howard & Rich Moore)
Scanner (2016, Japan, Shusuke Kaneko)
I Want You to Know that I Love You (2016, Japan, Tetsuya Yanagisawa)
Trumpet of the Cliff (2016, Japan – South Korea, Yang Sang-hee)
Memories (2015, Japan, Kenichi Oguri)
Terraformars (2016, Japan, Takashi Miike)
Hold My Hand (2016, Japan, Yoko Narahashi)
Hee (2016, Japan, Kaori Momoi)
Chronicle of a Blood Merchant (2015, South Korea, Ha Jung-woo)
Macbeth (2015, UK, Justin Kurzel)
May Nai Fai Rang Frer (May Who?) (2015, Thailand, Chayanop Boonprakob)
U-31 (2016, Japan, Kenji Tani)
Rookie Chef (2016, Japan, Fung Kai)
TV Director’s Movie
A.I. I Love You (Shogo Miyaki)
What You Can Talk to Your Belongings? (Futaro Koto)
The King of Minami (Toichiro Ruto)
Ninkyo Yaro (Kiyotaka Tokunaga)
Fuji_jukai.mov (Katsumi Sakashita)
Bros. (Akihide Masuda)
Angel of Horror (Toshikazu Nagae)
Suchiko: Shopping Street War (Hitonori Taniguchi)
Open Air Screening:
Pacific Rim (2014, US, Guillermo del Toro)
Kingsmen: Secret Service (2015, UK, Matthew Vaughn)
Okinawa Historical Movie: Tomi Taira Memorial Retrospective (Umi-Sora-Sango No Litsutae, Pineapple Tours, Run! K-100 dan Yamangunutida (The Gushiken Yoko Story)
Cocktail Party (Reggae Life)
Comedy of Life:
The Pornographers (Shohei Imamura)
Pork Cutlet a la Japonaise (Yuzo Kawashima)
Play it Again, Sam (Herbert Ross)
The Paleface (Norman Z. McLeod)