REPORT2019.04.20OIMF 11 Daily Report 3: Saturday April 20

The third day of the Okinawa International Movie Festival, Saturday the 20th, started off with kids filling Yoshimoto Kogyo’s Laugh & Peace School for the “Workshop Collection.” The event gives them the chance to explore activities that are both fun and educational, and also meet some of their favorite entertainers.

The comedy duo Chocolate Planet guided kids in decorating sandals with their own original designs, and Hiroshi Yamamoto of the comedy trio Robert helped young participants create their own “kami-shibai,” a traditional form of Japanese storytelling that combines drawings and narration. Popular travel writer Rieko Ayumi held a workshop where kids could try out tribal clothing and instruments from around the world.

The “Workshop Collection” is one of the ways that the 11th Okinawa International Movie Festival goes beyond a film and art festival, and contributes to the community.

In the same way, the Fest continued its efforts to promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with several events on Saturday.

One was an interactive “Cross-lingual Escape Game” held at the Laugh and Piece school. It sent participants back to school to learn about SDGs. Participants were divided into teams, and each team also had deaf or hearing-impaired volunteers who can use Japanese sign language.

The game was called "The Mystery of the Treasure Hidden in Blue Waters: Rendezvous on a Moonlit Night” and started with a video featuring popular comedian Gori dressed as a pirate. He explained that everyone was trapped on his ship and would need to follow certain clues in order to escape and get a treasure chest. He also said that deaf players would have the advantage in solving certain clues, while hearing people would have the advantage with other clues. Participants that can understand sign language wore goggles, so they could be easily found. The design of the game encouraged teammates to work together, even if they do not use the same language.

Another big way the fest is supporting the SDGs is with the “Jimot CM Republic Final,” a competition of videos introducing a specific place and one or more of the SDGs.

Anyone could participate simply by putting a 30-second clip online with the hashtag #JIMOTCM. More than 700 entries were submitted. Submissions were made in three categories: the 41 towns and villages of Okinawa, the other 46 prefectures of Japan, and the rest of the world. Votes were taken from people who viewed the clips online, as well as the judges at the final event.

The theme for this year’s contest is “connecting with the future, the power of regions,” with the aim of giving children and future generations a feeling for important issues in the world.

Videos by the finalists were screened at an award ceremony on Saturday afternoon at Naminoue Umisora Park. The clips were introduced by many of Japan’s top comedians, including Kiyoshi Nishikawa, Junichi Komoto, Yuriyan Retriever and the duos Slimclub and Miki, among many others.

Two important visitors from the United Nations joined the event. Kaoru Nemoto, Director of the UN Information Centre in Tokyo said that this is her third year to come to the Okinawa International Movie Festival to talk about SDGs, and the second year of the Jimot CM Republic competition. “We are so thankful for the opportunity given to us by the festival,” she said.

Maher Nasser, the Director of the Outreach Division in the UN Department of Public Information, traveled from New York to Okinawa for the first time for the festival. He explained that every country in the world signed on the to the goals, with the aim of achieving them by 2030. “I am very thankful that Yoshimoto Kogyo is making entertainment of something we take very seriously because it is our job, and that is teaching people about SDGs,” he said. “UN reports are very serious and if you read one you would fall asleep. But this event makes them fun.”

Also at Naminoue Umisora Park was a performance by popular idol group Yoshimotozaka46. They gave a special concert for the 11th Okinawa International Movie Festival. The cloudy weather couldn’t stop J-pop fans for pouring into the scenic oceanfront setting.

The group includes several Yoshimoto comedians, including Yuriyan Retriever and Yoshiko, as well as many singers who passed the strict audition process. Like many large idol groups, it normally gives performances with 10 or 12 members. The concert as the 11th OIMF was special, as it included nearly all 46 members. It is also unique because it includes both female and male members.

The concert also included the first performance of the next single by Yoshimotozaka46. The song’s title “Konya wa eeyan” means “Tonight is nice” in the Osaka dialect. It will be released on May 8th, but fans got to hear it first at the 11th Okinawa International Movie Festival.

And on Saturday evening at the Mihama 7plex in Chatan there was a screening of one of the most hotly anticipated films of the 11th Okinawa International Movie Fest, “Erica 38.” This based on fact story follows small-time businesswoman, hostess and grifter Satoko Watabe who became a big time con artist and fled to Thailand. The title comes from the fact the woman changed her name to Erica in southeast Asia and presented herself as 38 years old, despite the fact she was well into her sixties at the time.
The work is the brainchild of producer Kazuyoshi Okuyama and has garnered much attention in Japan as it was a big news story when the actual Watabe was arrested. The project also was blessed with the cooperation of legendary star Kiki Kirin, both as an actress and a producer.

Satoko (Miyoko Asada) is a bar hostess and small time operator with a gift of being able to sweet talk people. She starts a pyramid scheme business selling vitamins and is doing just all right. But her gift of selling is noticed by a rich woman who introduces her to Hirasawa (Takehiro Hira), a handsome con man who sets up a scheme to bilk investors of large amounts of money. As the gelder starts pouring in Satoko and Hiraswa become lovers. Naturally things go wrong. Satoko figures out Hirasawa has many other girlfriends, and is just using her for his scams. Devastated, she embezzles all the company money, thought to be about 8 million dollars and flees to Thailand. There she lives a life of luxury with her 20-something Thai lover but the Japanese police track her down. Gripping, and with great story-telling, “Erica 38” thrilled the audience.

Back at Sakurazaka Theater in Naha, the Creators Factory U-25 Competition was held. This event is a film incubator and competition, which aims to develop young talent in Japan. This year 8 films made the final cut and competed for prizes. The pieces, which ranged in time from 15 minutes to just over an hour, were shown all day Saturday at the Sakurazaka Theater, with the winners were announced at the end of the screenings in the evening.

Picking up bot the Audience Award and one of the Special Jury Prizes was Trash, a sci-fi story set in the 26th century. At that time trash is dumped out in space but the garbage men intercept strange radio waves. The other Special Jury Prize went to Filament, which explores the concept of a “hero,” Finally the Grand Prize was won by Nana-chan. This work depicts the last day of high school life for a boy and a girl.

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