Report2018.04.22A Love Story Spanning Okinawa and Vietnam

The 10th Okinawan International Movie Festival featured a screening of the film Memories of Whale Island, which features characters from Japan and Vietnam, as the two countries celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations.

The film tells the story of Manami (Ito Ono) who has been working in Tokyo but moves to Okinawa to live with her aunt and start a new job as a tour guide. Manami is troubled by a dark memory from the past that prevents her from enjoying life. When she meets Vietnamese client Khoa (Win Morisaki), his kindness helps her slowly open up. But a trip the Zamami Island on a whale-watching tour forces her to confront her past.

Before the screening at Sakurazaka Theatre on Sunday April 22, the director and cast were introduced by Double Wish, a Japanese comedy duo based in Vietnam. All of them had fond memories of filming in both locations. Ono recalled that she was stunned by how bright the stars were in Okinawa, saying it was like being in a planetarium. Morisaki, who was born in Myanmar and moved to Japan at a young age, said he enjoyed Okinawa so much he hopes to one day be able to build a vacation home there. Director Yuji Makino explained the crew was actually able to see whales during filming on Zamami Island.

The memories of filming in Vietnam were very different. Morisaki was surprised at just how many motorbikes fill the streets and how their drivers wear brightly colored masks. “And the motorbikes have really loud horns,” Makino said. “People want to attract attention. It was a challenge to film scenes with that noise.”

Memories of Whale Island showcases both Okinawa and Vietnam, while expressing how our memories of places we visit shape who we are.