REPORT2019.04.20Films Old and New at Shuri Gekijo, Okinawa's Oldest Cinema

Okinawa’s oldest operating cinema, Shuri Gekijo, was open for business on Saturday, April 20th, as part of the 11th Okinawa International Movie Festival. Cinema fans flocked to the historic theater just below Naha’s Shuri Castle for a day of movies both new and old.

The day started with experimental animated film "Violence Voyager,” which has won a cult following in Japan, France and elsewhere since being released last year. Direct Ujicha painted over 3,000 images by hand to create the feature-length film about an American boy in Japan who gets lost in a seemingly abandoned amusement park.

Next up was the classic 1932 comedy “Horse Feathers” staring the Marx Brothers. Film scholar Toshiya Arano, who is an expert on silent films and early talkies, gave a presentation following the screening to talk about how the film was originally released in Japan. Since there was no technology at the time to put subtitles on the screen, it was screened with a live narrator explaining story and reading all the lines. Celebrated rakugo performer Katsura Bunshi also joined the session and talked about the influence the Marx Brothers have had on Japanese comedians over the years.

The final film of the day was the 1984 Japanese comedy “The Crazy Family,” which is about a mother and father that manage to scrap enough money together to leave a crowded housing estate and move into a house, only to find their life is much more hectic there.

The day presented a rare opportunity to see films that are not often screened in the atmosphere of a historic cinema.

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