Report2018.04.22OIMF 10 Daily Report 4: Sunday April 22

The 4th and final day of the 10th Okinawa International Movie Festival, April 22nd, kicked off with a morning screening of Peng Xiaolian’s homage to Shanghai, Please Remember Me, at the Sakurazaka Theater in Naha. Despite unspooling at 1040am the theater was packed with viewers eager to see Ms. Peng’s latest work. The respected auteur has directed such previous features as Wild Swans and Shanghai Story.

This complex effort depicts what it’s like to live in contemporary Shanghai while also paying tribute to the city’s illustrious past and questioning the meaning and worth of being a movie star. On top of all that it’s also a touching love story. Ah Mei (Jia Yiping) is a cinematographer in Shanghai who dedicates his life to low-budget projects and efforts that recall the glory of Shanghai’s film industry before the Revolution. He’s forced to live in a rundown shikumen (old style Chinese house down a narrow lane) that is threatened with destruction. Indeed all the other tenants have left. His life is shaken up when Cia Yun (Feng Wenjuan), a pretty actress from his small home city, turns up. She has dreams of becoming a big star in Shanghai but is dismayed to learn Ah Mei isn’t interested in high-profile projects. Cia also seems to have romantic intent toward Ah Mei, who lives in a world of images and historical cinema.

The final day of the Festival featured a red carpet event, where movie fans could not only see their favorite stars, but even get autographs or take selfies together. Sudden heavy rain and thunder pushed the start from noon to 3pm, but hundreds of fans lined both sides of Naha’s historic Kokusai-dori street, patiently waiting for the rain to let up. When the call was made for the event to go ahead, stars began to appear on the red carpet stretching from Mutsumibashi Intersection down to Tenbusu Plaza. There were also representatives from sponsors such as Orion Beer and Nihon Terebi, NGOs and local municipalities.

There were teams from several Okinawan-set films, including Memories of Whale Island, Jimami Tofu and Born Bone Boom. Fans cheered when they saw the director of Born Bone Boom, Toshiyuki Teruya, an Okinawan-born comedian well known on Japanese television and a familiar presence at the 10th Okinawan International Movie Festival where he has served as MC at several events.

Toshiyuki Teruya was not the only Okinawan star to walk the red carpet. There were also actor Shogen, from the inventive drama Smokin' On The Moon, Rino Nakasone from the food drama Jimami Tofu and actress Meisa Kuroki, who got a huge reaction from the crowd with her first appearance at the Okinawa International Movie Festival. “It took 10 years for me to be invited,” joked Kuroki, who hosted a new event at the festival named “My Favorite Movie.”

Popular actor Hiroshi Abe took time to shake hands and sign autographs along the red carpet, saying “I am so thankful people are here to support us even in the rain.”

The 10th Okinawa International Movie Festival officially came to an end in the early evening of April 22 with a closing ceremony. The MCs were the Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy duo Garage Sale, which includes Toshiyuki Teruya, who also directed the film Born Bone Boom that screened during the festival. The topic of their humorous banter was the heavy rain, which caused the red carpet event to be delayed and the closing ceremony to move indoors. They joked that they have already checked the weather forecast for next year’s festival and found that it will be raining every single day.

Naha Mayor Mikiko Shiroma was more serious on the subject, saying the rain this year was hard to deal with, but at the festival next year or the year after that, it will be something that people will have strong memories of. And Yoshimoto Kogyo CEO Hiroshi Osaki insisted that he loves rain, saying it makes everything look unified.

Then it was time for the awards to be presented. Actress Meisa Kuroki presented the Audience Choice Awards. The Chinese historical epic In Pursuit of the General was selected by audiences as their favorite film in a language other than Japanese. And the body-switch comedy Reon was the best-loved film in Japanese.

Even after the Festival officially ended with the closing ceremony, the party continued with a concert at the harbor side Naminoue Umisora Park in the evening. The event was free to the public and thousands of people filled the park, despite the rainy weather earlier in the day.

Okinawan musicians from several groups, including Kariyushi58, Begin and Kiiyama Shouten, came together to play on the same stage. They performed pop and rock numbers flavored with Okinawan instruments and melodies. Rimi Natsukawa sang several Okinawan ballads, while solo artists Hiro and Hiroaki Kato took turns singing with the all-star backing band.