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Event 2017.04.23Okinawa International Movie Festival Daily Report April 23

The third day of the 9th Okinawa International Movie Festival began in the early morning with a brand new event courtesy of the sports department of Yoshimoto. Urasoe x Yoshimoto saw several famous comedians create teams amongst school kids at the local school, to play a series of games at Urasoe Municipal Elementary School Gymnasium.

Several giants of sport in Japan were on hand to assist in games including a team sack race. 500m Bronze Medalist speed skater from the Nagano Olympics Tomomi Okazaki, and Atlanta Olympic gymnastics team member Hikaru Tanaka were joined by former Japan Rugby representative Shotaro Onishi and FC Osaka pro soccer player Gakuto Kondo. Comedians Yagi of Savanna, Nakayama Kinnikun, Chocolate Planet, Regular, Onishi Lion, and Garigari Galixon all played big kids for the sports event to create a strong and positive spirit of teamwork amongst the kids!

Midday Sunday saw thousands line Naha' s famous Kokusai-dori for the festival red carpet, under bright blue skies and perfect bright sunshine. This year 214 groups with 1099 people walked the 150-meter long red carpet all the way to Tenbusu Naha stage.

Amongst the guests we were delighted to welcome a mixture of local businesses, community representatives, actors and actresses, and even rock stars!

"I' m very glad to walk in the comfortable and beautiful weather," remarked actress Tao Tsuchiya who walked the carpet with actor Ryota Katayose.

Hong Kong actress Candy Lo was joined by Japanese actress Natsuna, each looking like a princess in gorgeous dresses. They were followed by rock star Gackt, and comedian super star Naomi Watanabe, who delighted the crowd and stopped to sign autographs.

Akiyoshi Nakao walked with Keisuke Koide and Jimmy Onishi. "We are very glad to receive the warm greetings from the Okinawa people!" said Nakao.

Last to walk was Hiroshi Osaki, Chairman and CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyo and President of the Okinawa Film Festival, comedian Tamako Miyagawa and Mayor of Naha Mikiko Shiroma. "I got the suggestion from Mayor Shiroma to make this red carpet the longest lasting red carpet in the world! I was very glad to hear this and I hope to continue this festival for a long time."

On the final day of the festival filmgoers got a special treat when superstar Gackt' s new film Karanukan screened. Gackt is widely acclaimed as the most successful solo rock artist of all time in Japan and has also appeared in many TV dramas and a number of films. His talents extend beyond music as the hit maker does a tremendous job as Hikaru Oyama, the lead in the film.

Karanukan is a personal work for Gackt as it' s set in Okinawa, his home prefecture and is based around the mythical traditions and reverence of nature that permeates the islands. Hikaru Oyama is a star photographer in Tokyo, in constant demand and earning huge fees, but he feels something in missing from his life. He takes a short break in Okinawa and is puzzled by faint singing that others that can' t hear. Then he has a vision of a lovely young woman but she is gone in an instant. Possessed, Oyama must find her with only a light shawl she has dropped as a clue. Eventually he tracks down Maumi Ishigaki (Suzuka Kimura), a stunning and pure lass who comes from a long line of priestesses. Will the jaded and world-weary artist make a play for the mystical daughter of the island?

In early evening film festival fans got a sneak peak into the first two installments of a hot new Netflix series that will be released in 190 countries simultaneously this summer. In a brave move, Yoshimoto has produced this exceptional docudrama based on its comedian `Jimmy' Onishi, an improbable comedic star.

As a boy Onishi was considered stupid and he couldn't even speak until he was eight. Socially awkward, the boy was bullied and harassed, with everyone thinking he' d never amount to anything. After managing to get a low-level job at Yoshimoto Onishi' s cause is championed by massively popular entertainer Akashiya Sanma, and lo, the boy had a knack for physical humor and touching audience' s funny bone. He has risen to become a major comedian in Japan, unlike any other that exists in the country. This bold adherence to the truth gives the series a gripping realism. In addition to this there are lighter moments and intermittent flashes of Jimmy' s unique and fresh humor.

For the second year Naminoue Umisora Park in Naha provided the stage for the closing ceremony of the All The Islands Okinawa Festival held in the early evening.

The Closing Ceremony began with MCs Gori and Kawata of Garage Sale and saw politicians from around Okinawa take to the stage to celebrate the success of the festival.

Takeshi Onaga, the Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, was first to speak. "Thank you for coming from around Japan and abroad to this festival, it' s wonderful to see everyone happy and smiling, I am glad you enjoy these four days!" he said. "This time Miyako, Ishigaki, and Iheya also joined with various events including far away islands, so that the whole of Okinawa shared this festival."

Awards for the JIMOT CM competition were given out, with "Dashi Activity" by Aomori Media Labo winning two prizes, the Grand Prix Award from 47 prefectures and the Yoshimoto 47 Shuffin Award. Yonabaru Town' s "Where are you Going Each Night? “ by Yonabaru Cheer Squad won from the 41 municipalities of Okinawa. “ Other Side" by Yasuhiro Ogawa won the under-25 section. The Creator' s Factory Award, including the famous Shisa trophy, went to "Half Time" by Yuki Favian Nishiki for his promising creative work.

Hiroshi Osaki, Chairman and CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyo and President of the Okinawa Film Festival closed with the final speech alongside Tamako Miyagawa, announcing "The festival will try its best for the 10th edition, "which was confirmed for 19-22rd April 2018.

In the evening the All-Ending concert drew long lines of people to see artists including Kariyushi 58, Yukito Ara, Masaru Shimabukuro (Begin), Kiyosaku (Mongol800) Hiroki&Ryo (Orange Range), Hiroko Shimabukuro, Nenes, Kiiyama Shouten and jimama.