REPORT2019.04.21OIMF 11 Daily Report 4: Sunday April 21

The fourth and final day of the 11th Okinawa International Movie Festival, Sunday the 21st, saw great events and crowd-pleasing presentations, including the famous red carpet with a host of stars.

Sunday kicked off with the announcement of a new entertainment platform by Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., Ltd., which organizes the Okinawa International Movie Festival. Members of the press and business leaders from the fields of entertainment and communications gathered at the ANA Crown Hotel Okinawa Harbor View Hotel in the morning of Sunday April 21st to learn about the exciting new project.

The MC for the event Ayako Kisa announced that a new joint venture for education will be established in Okinawa called “Laugh & Peace_Mother powered by NTT Group.” Kisa introduced the moderator of the event Dr. Ichiya Nakamura, who holds many titles, including professor at Keio University and adviser for the Cool Japan Organization. Nakamura said it is interesting that the opening video uses a song by the group Kariyushi58 titled “Anmaa,” which means “mother” in the Okinawan language. He added that since “Mother” is also in the name of the joint venture, he is very interested in seeing what the company will do.

Hiroshi Osaki, Chairman and CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyo, said, “I went to a book fair recently and saw a book with the notice that it is for kids aged 3 to 7.” He added, “I thought that was too limited, so I want to make this platform for people aged 3 to 73.” Osaki said that there are international streaming platforms such as Netflix, but there are not platforms that were actually developed in Japan, so he hopes to change that with this project. Dr. Nakamura added that Yoshimoto Kogyo has been producing analog content for over 100 years, so now is the time for it to push itself into to digital content.

NTT Representative Director Jun Sawada said that he was really happy when his company was asked by Yoshimoto Kogyo to join this project. “We have a plan to reach 97 percent of Japan in the next five years,” he said. “I don’t think there are any other companies that have that kind of plan.” Sawada said that NTT is working on cutting-edge technologies, such as 5G networks and smartphone chips with huge storage capacities that will give a boost to this platform.

Osaki said the plan calls for the platform to be launched in October. “Right now it is like a tornado that is just starting,” he said. “As it gains momentum, more and more content will be pulled into it and it will become stronger.”

Then at Noon the Red Carpet, with it’s parade of stars, commenced. Fans could not only see their favorite celebrities, but even get autographs and take selfies together.
Thousands had packed both sides of Naha’s historic Kokusai-dori (“International Street”) since the morning. A convertible Range Rover began carry stars to the red carpet that stretched from Mutsumibashi Intersection down to Tenbusu Plaza.
The crowd went wild when members of the idol group NMB48 appeared on the runway. There was also an appearance by a different idol group, Yoshimotozaka46, which includes Yoshimoto comedians among its members. Yoshiko and Yuriyan Retriever made time to sign one autograph after another and took photos with happy fans.

There were teams representing many of the films in the festival. Popular comedian Gori, who became a film director in recent years, had two of his short films screened at this year’s festival. He happily stopped to talk to his many eager fans along the red carpet. Actress Rio Uchida who appears in “A Shitty Film” was asked by many fans to take selfies together.

Meanwhile the fest was showing great films in venues across Okinawa. At the Sakurazaka Theater, just off of Kokusai dori, the house was packed for director Zhang Luoping’s Sunflower. This elegiac work is told with a wonderful naturalism while working in the occasional magic realism. It portrays life in a village in the Chinese countryside and presents breathtaking landscapes as well as the realities of the difficult life in the rural areas.

The film touching portrays the love and bond between father and son, as well as offers the sweeping, stunning landscapes of interior mainland China (it was actually shot in Inner Mongolia). It deftly moves between extremely realistic shots of the family’s tough life and more impressionistic, magical images that a 10-year old boy would experience. Director Zhang Luoping was present after the screening and he told the crowd, “Of course the film depicts the intense affection between father and son but that is not the only thing I wanted to show. I wanted to lay out the different periods in ones life and how things can change at different times.”

The 11th Okinawan International Movie Festival officially came to an end in the evening on Sunday, April 21 with a closing ceremony. Filmmakers and film fans alike filled the scenic Umisora Park to see some of the highlights of the festival. The evening kicked off with a high-energy performance by the Nishihara High School Marching Band, which thrilled the crowed with its expert playing and dancing.

The much-anticipated awards were presented. Veteran actor Eiji Okuda gave the Audience Choice Awards. The Japanese film “How to Bring Women Back Into A Good Humor” was selected by audiences as their favorite. The comedy centers on a couples who arguments about their wedding plans push them to the brink of calling it all off. Accepting his trophy, director Shusuke Arita said “if there are men who are not getting along with their wives and are thinking about getting a divorce, seeing this movie can make them change their minds.”

The Jimot CM Awards are given to the best 30-second films presenting one or more of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in a specific locale. The winner in the Okinawa section was a video from the city of Uruma, which is about a local leader who teaches children about the importance of life. The prize for all other regions of Japan went to a video from the city of Hiroshima that introduces a restaurant owner who has spent decades cooking free nutritious meals for kids. Top honors in the international sections went to Ougon Jidai (“Golden Age”) a Yoshimoto comedy duo based in the Philippines, where they made a video showing that humans don’t mind throwing trash in the oceans where fish eat, but wouldn’t like it if people threw garbage into their food.

Next came awards for the Creators Factory U-25 Competition, which accepted submissions from filmmakers 25 or younger, since they rarely have a chance to participate in film festivals. “Trash,” a sci-fi story set in the 26th century, won both the Audience Award and one of the Special Jury Prizes. The other Special Jury Prize went to “Filament,” which explores the concept of a “hero.” The Grand Prize went to “Nana-chan,” which depicts the last day of high school life for a boy and a girl.

Finally, Hiroshi Osaki appeared to thank everyone for joining the festival. And he announced the dates for next year’s festival. The 12th Okinawa International Movie Festival will run April 16th-19th, 2020, giving fans of movies and Okinawa something to look forward to.

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